The visit began with a welcome ceremony, followed by a one-on-one meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Crown Prince.
The trip comes at a time when the West and the wider Middle East are seeking to repair ties with the oil-rich kingdom in an attempt to alleviate financial hardship caused by the pandemic and sky-high energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In April, Erdogan met with the crown prince in the Saudi city of Jeddah, a visit that ended years of diplomatic standoff between the two countries.
The crown prince, known as MBS, is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. A wave of repression against Saudi dissidents, culminating in the killing of Khashoggi by a group of 15, has strained relations between Riyadh, several Western states and Turkey.
According to official Turkish sources, a Saudi forensic expert armed with a bone saw dismembered Khashoggi’s body after he was killed at the Istanbul consulate in October 2018. MBS denied any involvement in the assassination, which made international headlines with grim details of the assassination.
Erdoğan strongly opposed the assassination, opening an investigation into the assassination, and diplomatic relations between the two countries broke down.
Human rights groups condemned the move, arguing that it would close the case. Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Chengiz, who has been an outspoken advocate for justice for the slain Saudi critic, said her legal team will appeal the decision.
“The fact that he came to our country does not change the fact that he is responsible for the murder,” Cengiz tweeted, referring to MBS’s visit.
During his US presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to turn MBS into a “rogue” because of his rights. As president, Biden has refused to speak directly to the powerful prince, preferring instead to talk to his official counterpart, the ailing King Salman.
But rising fuel prices in recent weeks triggered a reversal in Biden’s Saudi policy. Tensions in diplomatic relations sharply weakened US leverage in Riyadh to produce more oil, until Biden stepped up diplomatic efforts and scheduled the first official visit to the kingdom, which is expected to take place in July. He is expected to meet with MBS during the visit.
Isil Sariyuke of CNN contributed to this report.