Turkey's Cem Visits Saudi Arabia after Years of Cool Ties
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ismail Cem arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday after years of cool ties between the two countries, an AFP reporter at the airport said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who last visited Ankara in 1995, met Cem off the plane.
The two were to hold talks about "international matters and the situation in the region," a Turkish diplomat said.
Relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been distinctly cool in recent years, mainly over Ankara's military ties with Israel.
The Turkish foreign ministry said Friday that Cem would also travel to Israel next week at the Jewish state's invitation.
Cem's meetings in the Saudi kingdom on Saturday and Sunday will focus on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues, foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said in Ankara.
The visit to Israel aims to advance Ankara's efforts to defuse tension in the Middle East and persuade both Israel and the Palestinians to put the peace process back on track, said Dirioz.
"We are hopeful that our efforts for peace will bear fruit because there is no alternative to the peace process," he added.
Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but secular nation which has close ties both with Israel and the Palestinians, has repeatedly urged the two sides to halt their seven-week-old clashes and resume negotiations on a permanent peace settlement -- RIYADH (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)