Saudi Crown Prince Starts Gulf Tour as Rivalries Melt Away
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman embarks on a tour of Gulf Arab states Monday, adding to a flurry of diplomacy seeking to resolve long-simmering regional tensions that have threatened prosperity.
The de facto Saudi leader’s trip to Qatar will coincide with a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, several people familiar with the matter said. They did not say if the two leaders would meet though Qatar’s foreign minister on Monday said the timing was purely coincidental.
Saudi Arabia’s relations with Turkey soured in 2018 after prominent Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, drawing international condemnation. But the kingdom ended a three-year boycott of Qatar, a close Turkish ally, in January and has since sought to restore ties across the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.
The tour will begin in Oman, where Prince Mohammed will meet with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, the Omani official news agency reported. The world’s largest crude exporter had a cool relationship with Oman for years because of its cordial ties with Iran, but the two governments have grown closer over the past year.
Saudi Arabia’s strong ties with the UAE have been shaken over the past few years by differences over the Yemen conflict and growing competition for business and investment. The prince will also visit Kuwait and Bahrain, said the people, asking not to be identified because they’re not authorized to comment.
The Gulf tour is the prince’s second foray abroad since the coronavirus wreaked economic havoc and prompted Gulf rulers to recalibrate relations. It comes ahead of a GCC summit taking place in the kingdom on Dec. 14.
Gulf leaders had enjoyed good relations with Donald Trump, supporting his decision in 2018 to withdraw from the nuclear accord with their common rival Iran. They’ve sought to reset foreign relations since Joe Biden arrived in the White House, re-engaging with Iran and signaling he’ll be less tolerant of U.S. allies engaging in conflicts that undermine Washington’s objectives.
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