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Turkey's Erdogan and Saudi king agree to solve issues through dialogue

In phone call, two leaders agree to keep channels of communication open to improve bilateral ties and overcome issues
Ankara and Riyadh have been at odds for years over foreign policy and attitudes towards Islamist political groups.
Ankara and Riyadh have been at odds for years over foreign policy and attitudes towards Islamist political groups (AFP/File photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia's King Salman agreed in a phone call on Friday to improve bilateral ties and solve outstanding disputes through dialogue, according to the Turkish presidency.

"President Erdogan and King Salman agreed to keep channels of dialogue open to improve bilateral ties and overcome issues," the Turkish presidency said in a statement, adding that the two leaders also discussed the G20 summit.

Saudi state news agency SPA reported that the king called Erdogan to coordinate efforts within the framework of the G20 summit, which will take place on 21 and 22 November.

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Relations between Ankara and Riyadh have been strained for years, and the murder of Middle East Eye columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 sharply escalated tensions.

For more than a year, some Saudi and Turkish traders had speculated that Saudi Arabia was enforcing an informal boycott of imports from Turkey. Middle East Eye first reported on the plan in 2019.

Last month, the Financial Times reported that the informal boycott hit the international fashion scene when Spanish fashion brand Mango reconsidered their Turkish suppliers due to an embargo by Saudi authorities.

Turkey is one of the biggest textile producers in Europe and the Middle East, with the country having exported about $18bn worth of clothing in 2019, according to the Istanbul Apparel Exporters' Association.

While Saudi officials have denied claims that it has been blocking Turkish goods, in October, Ajlan al-Ajlan, the head of Riyadh's non-governmental Chamber of Commerce, called for the government to set up an official boycott in response to "the continued hostility of the Turkish government" against Saudi Arabia.