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Turkey’s Erdogan visits the UAE for first time in a decade

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Erdogan visits Albania
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (not pictured) attend a news conference, in Tirana, Albania January 17, 2022 REUTERS/Florion Goga

February 14, 2022

DUBAI (Reuters) -Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday on the first such visit since 2013, as the two countries mend ties strained by years of animosity in a pivot toward economic partnership.

Turkish news agency Anadolu reported later that the two countries had signed 13 agreements including on defence, trade, climate change, industry and the economy.

Turkish sources had said they were expected to agree to officially begin negotiations for a trade and economic agreement, as well as sign a letter of intent to start meetings on cooperation in the defence industry.

Erdogan was greeted by the Gulf state’s de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who visited Ankara last November when investment accords worth billions of dollars were signed.

“During this visit, we aim to develop the momentum we have captured with the United Arab Emirates and to take the necessary steps for ties to go back to the level they deserve,” Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before he departed.

“The dialogue and cooperation of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates carries great importance for the peace and stability of our entire region,” he added.

The UAE and Turkey have competed for regional influence since Arab uprisings erupted a decade ago, a rivalry which saw them backing different sides in Libya’s civil war and extended to disputes from the eastern Mediterranean to the Gulf.

The warming diplomatic relations come as Turkey is facing economic turmoil and as the UAE pursues a more conciliatory foreign policy driven by economic priorities.

Last month the two countries agreed on a nearly $5 billion swap deal in local currencies.

Erdogan said that during his visit Turkey and the UAE would seek to boost bilateral trade and seek opportunities in “the complementary structures of the two countries’ economies”.

Turkey, at odds with several regional powers as well as its Western allies over various issues, launched a regional charm offensive last year. But efforts with Egypt and Saudi Arabia have so far yielded little public improvement.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Orhan Coskun in Ankara; Writing by Yousef Saba in DubaiEditing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Graff)

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