President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone call with the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) de-facto leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), late Monday in which the two discussed relations between Turkey and the Gulf state.
The two discussed their countries' relations and regional issues, according to a statement from the Turkish presidency. The statement did not say when the conversation took place.
The UAE’s state-run news agency said the leaders “reviewed the prospects of reinforcing the relations between the two nations in a way that serves their common interests and their two peoples.”
Erdoğan previously said that the countries, which have been at odds in several issues, have made progress in bilateral relations in recent months.
UAE national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s trip was the highest-level public visit by an Emirati official to Turkey in years.
The two countries have seen their ties affected by regional tensions, including the conflict in Libya, where the UAE and Turkey have backed opposing sides in recent years.
"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," Erdoğan had noted.
"I am also considering meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed," he added.
The two countries, which backed rival sides in the conflict in Libya, have been bitter rivals for regional influence. Turkey last year accused the UAE of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and several other countries criticized Turkey's military actions. Relations between Turkey and the UAE hit an all-time low when Erdoğan said that Ankara could suspend diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi administration after the UAE-Israel deal.
Turkish officials have said the UAE supports terrorist organizations that target Turkey, using the groups as convenient political and military tools abroad.
The UAE's aggressive foreign policy led it to be a part of a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that launched a devastating air campaign to roll back Houthi territorial gains in 2015, further escalating the crisis in the war-torn country. In Libya, Abu Dhabi backed putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar and tried to oust the legitimate United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). In Syria, it supported the Bashar Assad regime in its offensive against democracy and civil rights.
And in 2017, Abu Dhabi was at the forefront of a regional embargo on Qatar, which the UAE and Saudi Arabia imposed after accusing Doha of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and being too close to Iran. In January, Abu Dhabi followed Saudi Arabia’s lead in lifting the regional embargo on Qatar.
In June, a report said that UAE seeks to restore ties with Turkey and other regional countries.
Turkey has in recent months relaxed its tensions with a number of Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Erdoğan had reiterated that Turkey hopes to maximize its cooperation with Egypt and Gulf nations "on a win-win basis," at a time when Ankara intensified diplomacy to mend its fraught ties with Cairo and some Gulf Arab nations after years of tensions.
Already-strained relations with Saudi Arabia collapsed after the killing by Saudi agents of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul - a killing that Erdoğan said had been ordered at the highest level in Riyadh.
Turkey's ties with Cairo have been poor since the military overthrew Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, following protests against his rule.
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.