Erdogan says Turkey and UAE making progress after rare meeting


Istanbul (Reuters) – Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have made progress in relations which could lead to significant UAE investment in Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday after a rare meeting with a senior UAE official.

The talks marked the latest move by Ankara to ease tensions with several Arab powers over the conflict in Libya, internal Gulf disputes and rival claims to Eastern Mediterranean waters.

Erdogan held talks in Ankara on Wednesday with UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan which also focused on economic cooperation.

“In this meeting we discussed what type of investment could be made in which areas,” Erdogan said in a television interview.

Turkey last year accused the United Arab Emirates of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and several other countries criticised Turkey’s military actions.

“For several months … beginning with our intelligence unit, by holding some talks with the administration of Abu Dhabi, we have arrived at a certain point,” Erdogan said.

He said he hoped to talk with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, and hoped for closer economic ties.

“They have a very serious investment target, an investment plan,” Erdogan said, adding that the heads of Turkey’s Wealth Fund and investment support agency would pursue the talks.

“If they continue in a good way with their counterparts, I believe the United Arab Emirates will make serious investments in our country in a very short time,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting came after similar overtures this year by Ankara towards Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The overtures were aimed at overcoming tensions that have impacted Turkey’s economy, which has been struggling with high inflation, a weak lira and limited foreign investment.

Turkey’s ties with Cairo have been poor since Egypt’s president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown by Egyptians, following protests against his rule.

Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in political Islam, had been a strong supporter of Mursi.

As part of their push to rebuild fractured relations, the two countries held talks in May over their differences on the conflicts in Libya and Syria and the security situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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