Saudi Crown Prince to make regional tour ahead of Biden visit

Before heading to Turkey, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will stop in Jordan. PHOTO: REUTERS

RIYADH (BLOOMBERG) - Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler is expected to hold meetings in Egypt this week at the start of a rare regional tour that will also seek to build bridges with former rival Turkey.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's trip comes ahead of the first visit by US President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia next month for wide-ranging talks including on energy, investment, security and Iran.

Before heading to Turkey, the prince will stop in Jordan, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported.

Saudi Arabia has not officially commented on the trip.

In Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is wrestling with record grain prices exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Saudi Arabia is one of several Gulf Arab states which have together pledged more than US$20 billion (S$27 billion) in deposits and investment to shore up the economy of a country viewed as a linchpin in the Arab world.

Ahead of Prince Mohammed's arrival, Sisi and the kings of Bahrain and Jordan discussed ways to deepen relations and coordinate on "issues of common concern" at a meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on Sunday (June 19).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week he would welcome the Saudi crown prince in Ankara on June 22. That leg of the tour could deliver a boost to Turkey's deteriorating economy. It comes after years of regional rivalry, exacerbated by the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Erdogan is working to improve relations with Riyadh and other regional capitals as he aims to boost trade and lure investment. Turkish inflation has surged above 70 per cent, threatening to undermine support for the longtime Turkish leader and his party ahead of elections scheduled for next year.

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