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Turkish leader visits UAE as relations thaw after icy decade

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the left, is welcomed by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in the UAE capital. AFP

Turkish leader visits UAE as relations thaw after icy decade

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in the UAE on February 14 for the first time in nearly a decade, to revive relations that were long strained by regional disputes.

Erdogan arrived in the capital Abu Dhabi, where he was greeted by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, reported the official WAM news agency.

Turkey and the oil-rich Emirates have backed opposing sides in the Libyan civil war and in a Gulf diplomatic crisis, and they have sparred over issues such as gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

But those tensions eased after Sheikh Mohammed, the de facto ruler of the UAE, travelled to Ankara in November, the first high-level visit to Turkey since 2012.

That trip “marked the beginning of a new era in relations”, Erdogan told journalists at Istanbul airport before leaving for his two-day trip.

The Turkish president’s visit to the UAE, meanwhile, is his first since 2013, when he was prime minister, and it is his first as head of state.

“We are planning to take steps that will bring relations back to the level they deserve,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey-UAE dialogue and cooperation are “important to the peace and stability in our region”.

His trip comes as the Emirates face a growing threat from Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have launched several drone and missile attacks on the Gulf country, prompting stepped up UAE defence cooperation with the US and France.

Following Sheikh Mohammed’s visit in November, the UAE announced a $10 billion fund for investments in Turkey, where the economy has been reeling and inflation last month surged to a near 20-year high.

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