Rare exchange between Erdogan and the Saudi king, to improve their links

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman of Arabia discussed ways to improve their ties, during a telephone exchange that has become rare since the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Turkish president’s office announced on Friday evening.

This call came on the eve of the G20 summit chaired by Saudi Arabia, this weekend in Riyadh. The Turkish president is due to deliver a speech via video conference on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. GMT.

“President Erdogan and King Salman have agreed to keep the channels of dialogue open in order to improve bilateral relations and resolve the problems,” said the Turkish presidency.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have long vied for supremacy in the Muslim world, but tensions between the two Sunni-majority regional powers have escalated since the 2018 murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Kashoggi at the Saudi consulate Arabia in Istanbul.

Washington Post collaborator and critic of the Riyadh regime after being close to it, Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated and his body cut into pieces in the consulate, where he had gone to retrieve a document. His remains have never been found.

Jamal Khashoggi’s murder plunged Saudi Arabia into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnished the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was named by Turkish and American officials as the sponsor of the murder.

Erdogan himself indicated that the order to carry out the murder came from “the highest levels” within the Saudi government, but he never directly accused the crown prince.

In September, a Saudi court overturned the death sentences handed down to five defendants after a closed-door trial and sentenced them to 20 years in prison.

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