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Saudi crown prince heads to Turkey

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is visiting Turkey, hoping to normalise relations strained after the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Talks in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan come amid efforts by the oil-rich kingdom’s de facto ruler to repair his image and Erdogan’s search for financial and diplomatic gains to help mend an ailing economy ahead of next year’s elections.

Erdogan will receive the crown prince in an official ceremony at the presidential palace later on Wednesday, followed by a dinner in his honour, while no press conference is planned, according to the Turkish presidential office.

Erdogan travelled to Saudi Arabia in April for the first time since the brutal murder of Khashoggi in 2018.

US President Joe Biden is also set to visit the Gulf kingdom next month, a sign world leaders are open to re-establishing warmer ties amid rising fuel prices and tensions with Russia.

US intelligence services have identified the 36-year-old crown prince as being behind the Khashoggi murder. The Saudi royal house rejects the claim.

After initially investigating the murder and conducting a trial in absentia of 26 defendants, a Turkish court controversially ruled in April to move the trial to Saudi Arabia.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee, blasted the Turkish government for meeting with the crown prince, calling him a “murderer.”

“The fact that he is coming to our country does not change the fact he is responsible for a murder,” Cengiz wrote on Twitter, adding the legal battle to shed light on Khashoggi’s would continue.

Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, having gone to collect papers he needed to marry Cengiz, who was waiting outside.

His body hasn’t been found since.

“Jamal is no longer my story and this struggle for justice is no longer my fight alone. It is a fight by every free and thoughtful person. He is unfairly killed, he is someone even without a grave,” Cengiz wrote.

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