Turkey's Erdoğan hosts Qatar emir in first foreign trip since crisis
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held talks with Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in the capital Ankara on Thursday.
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on Thursday held talks in Turkey with the emirate's chief ally President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his first visit abroad since the start of a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia.
The talks got underway at Erdoğan's presidential palace in the capital Ankara, the Turkish presidency said.
Erdoğan has been a major supporter of Doha in the crisis that has seen Qatar left diplomatically and economically isolated.
* Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, right, shakes hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani prior to their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara (AP Photo)
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shiite rival Iran.
Doha, however, denies the claims and Ankara has insisted there is absolutely no evidence to back the allegations.
Erdoğan has strongly spoken out against the sanctions applied by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt against Doha.
* Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, talks with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, left, prior to their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey (AP Photo)
In a show of solidarity, Turkey has also sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food products to break the embargo on Doha.
After visiting Turkey, the emir is due to visit Berlin on Friday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his first trip to a western capital since the crisis began.
Erdoğan in July embarked on a regional tour of the Gulf countries, with visits to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar in a bid to defuse the crisis.
But his visit ended without any sign of a breakthrough and Ankara has shown signs of preferring to leave mediation efforts to Kuwait.
* Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, right, shakes hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (AP Photo)
On Wednesday, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah met with Erdoğan at his presidential palace.
Over the last years, Qatar has emerged as Turkey's number one ally in the Middle East, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating their positions on a number of issues including the Syria conflict where both are staunch foes of President Bashar al-Assad.
Ankara has built a military base in Qatar and reportedly already deployed around 200 troops there. The closure of the base was one of the conditions laid by the Saudi-led bloc for the lifting of the sanctions, which was rejected by Doha.