Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is planning a trip to Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Egypt where he will discuss regional and international issues and ink agreements in energy and trade, four sources familiar with the plans said on Monday.
This would be the prince’s first tour outside the region since the 2018 murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He visited Japan for a G20 summit in 2019.
Saudi officials are still discussing the exact dates with the countries the crown prince is visiting, the sources said. Two of them added that the trip could happen as soon as early June.
The Saudi government’s media office did not respond to a Reuters’ query on the planned tour.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul had sparked a furor in the West and tainted Prince Mohammed’s image as a reformist pushing to open up the Gulf Arab state, the world’s top oil exporter and largest Arab economy.
But some Western leaders have since visited Riyadh, including France’s president and Greece’s prime minister last year as well as the president of Cyprus earlier this year.
Turkey’s president visited the kingdom last month in the first high-level trip in years after intense efforts to mend ties that included dropping a Turkish trial over the killing of Khashoggi.
One of the sources, a senior Turkish official, said Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, accepted President Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation to visit and both sides were working to schedule it.
“Topics to be discussed are bilateral trade, regional developments, the possible (currency) swap deal and other investment and energy projects,” the official said.
Prince Mohammed’s last tour was of fellow Gulf Arab states last year.
His planned international trip comes at a time when Washington is working to ease tension with Riyadh. Longstanding U.S.-Saudi relations under U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration have been strained over the Khashoggi murder, as well as the Yemen war and global efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal.