ISTANBUL: In a rare phone call, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed ways of enhancing ties with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, his office said.

The phone call came on the eve of the G20 leaders’ summit hosted by Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday.

Erdogan and the Saudi king discussed bilateral relations during the phone call and exchanged views on the G20 summit, the Turkish presidency said late on Friday.

“President Erdogan and King Salman agreed on keeping channels of dialogue open in order for the bilateral relations to be enhanced and for issues to be settled,” it added.

Two leaders talk by phone on eve of G20 summit hosted by the kingdom

The relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia deteriorated after the killing in 2018 of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

President Erdogan on Saturday called on the European Union for dialogue, warning the bloc not to become a tool for enmity during escalating tensions over the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s deployment of a vessel to search for gas in waters claimed by Greece set off a fierce war of words with EU member states, who early this month extended sanctions against Ankara for another year.

The measures included allowing visa bans and asset freezes against individuals involved in contested gas exploration in the Mediterranean.

“We expect the EU to keep its promises, not to discriminate us or at least not to become a tool to open enmities targeting our country,” Erdogan said in a video address to his ruling party congress.

“We don’t see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe,” the Turkish leader added. “We envisage building our future together with Europe.”

Erdogan’s message comes as EU leaders are to decide in a December summit whether to impose further sanctions over Turkey’s recent activity.

Turkey’s exploration ship Oruc Reis remains at the centre of the tensions.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2020