Gulf reconciliation and ties with France discussed by Erdogan and Hariri during surprise meeting |

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ISTANBUL – Arab sources expected that the surprise visit of Lebanese Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri to Istanbul, where he held a lengthy meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would raise questions of reconciliation between the Gulf and the Turkish-French relations in addition to the crisis in Lebanon where no government is yet in place despite Hariri’s efforts.
Sources believe Hariri has sought to explore the Turkish president’s reactions to recent developments in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in light of the reconciliation between Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain, in addition to Egypt, which is not a member of the Council.

Erdogan, they noted, welcomed the statement issued by the Summit of Member States of the Cooperation Council (GCC) held in the Saudi city of Al-Ula.

According to the sources, the Turkish president wants to be part of the Gulf reconciliation process, being the first supporter of Qatar in its policies at all levels.

In statements on Friday, Erdogan hailed the reconciliation, saying it “would be good for the region” and his country would directly benefit.

He stressed that “Turkey will strengthen its relations with the Gulf” and that “Turkey will return to its stature in the coming period for the sake of cooperation between Turkey and the Gulf”.

Ankara adopts a pro-reconciliation discourse and tries to appease the Saudi leadership, in particular, in order to take advantage of this opportunity for reconciliation and restore the Turkey-Gulf relationship to its pre-Qatar crisis status of June 2017.

Turkey is doing all it can to escape the Gulf boycott that has further disrupted its economy as Saudi investments in vital sectors such as real estate dried up and tourism all but stopped.

To address the prospects for Turkish-French rapprochement, Hariri can count on his close ties with Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The sources highlighted the Turkish president’s willingness to tone down his hostile rhetoric towards Macron in particular and French politics in general, as Turkey prepares to deal with the Biden administration, which is not favorable to Erdogan’s policies and guidelines.

In this regard, it is believed that Erdogan prefers to achieve a rapprochement with Europe, including France, in order to avoid the emergence of a broad front against his policies, which include military intervention in Libya and threats to neighbors of Turkey, in particular Cyprus and Greece. .

On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he had agreed with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on a roadmap for the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Cavusoglu said: “Turkey never wants to have bad relations with any country, and if France is sincere in this matter, then Turkey is ready to normalize its relations with it. ”

Turkey is now feeling the impact of France in appeasing its movements in the eastern Mediterranean and in Libya, so its aim now is to defuse friction with Paris.

The statement issued after Hariri’s visit drew attention, including stating that “the meeting, which lasted two hours and included a working lunch, allowed for a detailed discussion of the latest regional developments, multiple challenges and means cooperation between the countries of the region to face it. ”

Hariri and Erdogan also discussed relations between Lebanon and Turkey and ways to support efforts to stop the collapse of the Lebanese economy and rebuild Beirut once the new government is formed in Lebanon.

Arab diplomatic sources believe that the inclusion in the declaration of “the latest regional developments and multiple challenges” means a discussion of the regional situation beyond Turkish-Lebanese relations and the role that Turkey can play in the field of reconstruction.

A statement released by the Turkish presidency’s communications department said Erdogan had held a meeting with Hariri at the Vahiddin Palace in Istanbul.

The statement added that Erdogan underlined his country’s determination to strengthen its deep bilateral relations with Lebanon in all areas. He also underlined the importance of political stability in Lebanon for peace and security in the region.

Turkey has already shown particular interest in the reconstruction of the Port of Beirut, a concern shared by France, which built the port in the 19th century, when Beirut was still an Ottoman province.

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