Saudi Crown Prince visits Turkey for first time since Khashoggi murder

 Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on his first visit to the country since the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

The visit began with a welcome party, followed by a personal meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Crown Prince.

The trip comes as the West and Middle East generally seek to mend ties with the oil-rich kingdom, trying to ease financial pressures caused by the pandemic and high energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. . . . In April, Erdogan met the crown prince in the Saudi city of Jeddah, in a visit that ended the years-long diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

The Crown Prince, known as MBS, is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. A wave of crackdowns on Saudi dissidents, culminating in the killing of Khashoggi by a 15-man assassination squad, has strained relations between Riyadh, many Western countries and Turkey.

However, US President Donald Trump supported Mohammed bin Salman, a pillar of Trump's Middle East policy, even as the CIA said it believed the crown prince had approved the assassination at the consulate.

According to official Turkish sources, a Saudi forensic expert equipped with a bone saw dismembered Khashoggi's body after he was killed in the Istanbul consulate in October 2018. Mohammed bin Salman denied involvement in the murder, which made international headlines with Shocking details of the murder. . .

Erdogan spoke out strongly against the assassination, opened an investigation into the assassination, and diplomatic relations between the two countries collapsed.

But it seems that the fall of the Turkish lira and inflation above 70% have forced the Turkish president to change course. For months, Ankara has made proposals with Riyadh, as well as Saudi Arabia's closest ally in the Gulf, Abu Dhabi, to mend ties, including ending Khashoggi's trial in April and moving the case to Riyadh.

Human rights groups condemned the move, saying it would end the case. Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, an outspoken advocate for justice for the slain Saudi critic, said her legal team would appeal the decision.

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