After rare meeting, Erdogan says regional rivals Turkey and UAE making progress

WION Web Team
Ankara, Turkey Published: Aug 19, 2021, 07:04 AM(IST)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The talks marked the latest move by Ankara to ease tensions with several Arab powers over the conflict in Libya, internal Gulf disputes, and rival claims to Eastern Mediterranean waters

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said regional rivals Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have made progress in relations after holding rare talks with a visiting delegation.

The two sides have suffered from years of difficult relations, backing opposing sides in the conflict in Libya and sparring on other regional issues.

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The talks marked the latest move by Ankara to ease tensions with several Arab powers over the conflict in Libya, internal Gulf disputes, and rival claims to Eastern Mediterranean waters.

Erdogan held talks in Ankara on Wednesday with UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan which also focused on economic cooperation.

"In this meeting we discussed what type of investment could be made in which areas," Erdogan said in a television interview.

The two countries, which backed rival sides in Libya's conflict, have been bitter rivals for regional influence.

Turkey last year accused the United Arab Emirates of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and several other countries criticised Turkey's military actions.

"For several months ... beginning with our intelligence unit, by holding some talks with the administration of Abu Dhabi, we have arrived at a certain point," Erdogan said.

He said he hoped to talk with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, and hoped for closer economic ties.

"They have a very serious investment target, an investment plan," Erdogan said, adding that the heads of Turkey's Wealth Fund and investment support agency would pursue the talks.

"If they continue in a good way with their counterparts, I believe the United Arab Emirates will make serious investments in our country in a very short time," he said.

The meeting came after similar overtures this year by Ankara towards Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The overtures were aimed at overcoming tensions that have impacted Turkey's economy, which has been struggling with high inflation, a weak lira, and limited foreign investment.

The UAE is also supporting Greece's energy claims in disputed eastern Mediterranean waters that Turkey pushed into searching for new natural gas deposits last year.

But Erdogan has made efforts to reach out to a range of regional rivals, including Egypt, as he tries to break out of a growing diplomatic isolation that has cooled foreign investors in Turkey's fragile economy.

Already-strained relations with Saudi Arabia collapsed after the killing by Saudi agents of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a killing that Erdogan said had been ordered at the highest level in Riyadh.

Turkey's ties with Cairo have been poor since the military overthrew Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, following protests against his rule.

Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in political Islam, had been a strong supporter of Mursi.

As part of their push to rebuild fractured relations, the two countries held talks in May over their differences on the conflicts in Libya and Syria and the security situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

(With inputs from agencies)

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