Qatar emir to visit Turkey in first foreign trip of Gulf crisis

#GulfTensions

Turkish presidency announces visit of Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Thursday

Qataris view a painting of Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (Reuters)
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Last update: 
Wednesday 13 September 2017 15:43 UTC
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Qatar's emir will visit Turkey on Thursday to meet Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his first visit abroad since the start of a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, Ankara said.

Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will hold talks on "bilateral ties and regional as well as international developments," the Turkish presidency said. 

Erdogan has been a major supporter of Doha since Qatar was left diplomatically and economically isolated by the standoff instigated by its giant neighbour.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shiite rival Iran. 

Doha, however, denies the claims. 

Erdogan has strongly spoken out against the sanctions applied by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt against Doha.

In a show of solidarity, Turkey has also sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food products to break the embargo on Doha.

After visiting Turkey, the emir is due to visit Berlin for talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, his first trip to a western capital since the crisis began.

Erdogan in July embarked on a regional tour of the Gulf countries, with visits to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar in a bid to diffuse the crisis.

But his visit ended without any sign of a breakthrough.

Kuwait's prime minister, Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, was due to meet Erdogan on Wednesday at his presidential palace in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan has voiced support for Kuwait's mediation efforts, in an indication that Ankara sees the emirate as the key to resolving the crisis.

Over recent years, Qatar has emerged as Turkey's number one ally in the Middle East, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating their positions on a number of issues including the Syria conflict where both are staunch foes of Bashar al-Assad.

Ankara has built a military base in Qatar and reportedly deployed around 200 troops. The closure of the base was one of the conditions laid down by the Saudi-led bloc for the lifting of the sanctions, which was rejected by Doha.

But Turkey also does not want to wreck its own relations with regional kingpin Saudi Arabia and its hugely powerful new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.