In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Sunday, Walid Abdul Karim el-Khereiji said the leaders of both Saudi Arabia and Turkey were cooperating to defuse conflicts in the Middle East. 

The interview comes on the eve of a scheduled visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia on Monday as part of a regional tour that also includes Bahrain and Qatar. 

El-Khereiji said Riyadh and Ankara share identical views regarding various regional issues, especially war-torn Syria and Iraq. 

Syria fell into civil war in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime suppressed pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. 

Iraq has also been struggling to oust Daesh terrorist group, which captured vast swathes of territory in the country’s north and west in 2014. 

“Saudi Arabia and Turkey are keen on cooperating together to defuse Middle East crises,” the Saudi envoy said. 

Exemplary ties 

El-Khereiji said the volume of the Saudi-Turkish trade exchange has jumped to $5.8 billion. 

“The number of Saudi tourists in Turkey has grown to around 250,000 per year,” he said. 

The ambassador said a 2015 visit by Saudi King Salman to Turkey to attend a G-20 summit has ushered in a new era of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. 

“Economic cooperation between the kingdom and Turkey has been steadily growing since the two countries signed a bilateral cooperation agreement in 1973,” he said. 

Last year, Riyadh and Ankara signed four agreements in the cultural and media fields during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef to Turkey. 

“The convention of the Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council in Ankara in recent days was another proof that bilateral relations were growing,” he said. 

The council convened last week under the foreign ministers of both countries to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. 

“The council seeks to boost trade relations between the two states,” he said, noting that both capitals were also seeking to cooperate in the field of energy. 

“While the kingdom has great potentials in this field, Turkey enjoys a strategic location and both countries are seeking to benefit from this,” he said. 

In 2016, Saudi Arabia and Turkey conducted four joint military drills. 

“There is an increasing cooperation between the two sides in the military and defense field,” he said, citing a recent visit by Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik to Riyadh. 

“The visit signifies that the two countries are keen on coordinating regarding security and stability in the region,” he said.

Anadolu Agency