Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two influential regional heavyweights, are seeking to bolster bilateral relations in various fields, according to the kingdom's new ambassador to Ankara.
Ambassador Walid Abdul Karim el-Khereiji said the leaders of both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are cooperating to defuse conflicts in the Middle East in an interview on Sunday.
The interview came on the eve of a scheduled visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Saudi Arabia on Monday as part of a regional tour that will also include Bahrain and Qatar.
El-Khereiji said Riyadh and Ankara share identical views on various regional issues, especially on war-torn Syria and Iraq.
Syria fell into civil war in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime suppressed pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Iraq has also been struggling to oust the Daesh terror group, which captured vast swathes of territory in the country's north and west in 2014.
"Saudi Arabia and Turkey are keen on cooperating together to defuse Middle East crises," the Saudi envoy said.
El-Khereiji also said that the volume of the Saudi-Turkish trade exchange has jumped to $5.8 billion.
"The number of Saudi tourists in Turkey has grown to around 250,000 per year," he said.
The ambassador said that the 2015 visit by Saudi King Salman to Turkey to the G-20 summit has ushered in a new era of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
"Economic cooperation between the kingdom and Turkey has been steadily growing since the two countries signed a bilateral cooperation agreement in 1973," he said.
Last year, Ankara and Riyadh signed four agreements in the cultural and media fields during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef to Turkey.
"The convention of the Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council in Ankara in recent days was another proof that bilateral relations were growing," he said.
The council convened last week under the foreign ministers of both countries to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
"The council seeks to boost trade relations between the two states," he said, noting that both capitals were also seeking to cooperate in the field of energy.
"While the kingdom has great potentials in this field, Turkey enjoys a strategic location and both countries are seeking to benefit from this," he said.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia and Turkey conducted four joint military drills.
"There is an increasing cooperation between the two sides in the military and defense field," he said, citing a recent visit by Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık to Riyadh.
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