RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi King Salman and Turkey’s premier on Wednesday discussed boosting ties and the status of Jerusalem, in a first high-level meeting since the US recognized the city as Israel’s capital.
Firm US ally Riyadh and NATO member Ankara have both slammed US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to upend decades of careful policy by Washington.
In a move that delighted much of Israel’s leadership but ignited protests across the Muslim world, Trump announced on December 6 that the US recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and planned to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
But the Saudis only sent a low-level representative to a conference of Muslim nations on the issue hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, amid signs of strains in their relations.
The Saudi SPA agency said King Salman received Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Riyadh and discussed “means of boosting bilateral ties and developments in the region,” without providing details.
Yildirim’s office in Ankara said the status of Jerusalem and supporting the Palestinians were discussed at the meeting.
“The importance of the status of Jerusalem was emphasized and that the whole Islamic world should act with unity to protect the rights of our Palestinian brothers,” the office said, citing Yildirim.
He also said that they discussed bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia “one of the most important countries in the Gulf and the Middle East.”
Ties between the sides soured following the 2013 ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, but warmed after King Salman’s accession to the throne 18 months later.
However, analysts say there are signs ties are being tested again as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has shaken up the kingdom and amassed power.
Turkish officials have avoided public criticism of Saudi Arabia but pro-government press have stepped up attacks on the kingdom, especially over its strong alliance with Trump.
Erdogan last week also lashed out at the powerful foreign minister of Saudi’s chief regional ally the UAE after he retweeted a social media post critical of the early 20th century Ottoman governor of Medina.