RIYADH: A foreign relations expert has called on the Kingdom and Turkey to forge stronger strategic ties to boost bilateral links and contribute to the peace and security of the Middle East region.

Abdullah Alshamri, adviser at the Ministry of Culture and Information, said in Riyadh Wednesday night that the two countries have vowed to work together on regional issues, combat terrorism and make the region free from weapons of mass destruction.

“The two countries have also pledged to promote dialogue among civilizations,” said Alshamri, while delivering a lecture in Riyadh. “In the field of military cooperation, Ankara-Riyadh relations have developed effectively.”

He pointed out the Turkish defense minister was expected to visit Riyadh in March to sign new military cooperation agreements. To this end, Alshamri noted that a bilateral accord on military training and studies was signed last year.

On regional issues, he said that Iranian nuclear policy has raised alert levels in the region, where Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been major players. The situation in Iraq also might result in significant threats to the security of both countries in the future, he added.

He called for continuous consultation and communication among Saudi and Turkish leaders to ensure stability in the region, which suffers from “political, sectarian, ethnic, religious, social and economic upheavals.”

The events of September 2001 had a direct impact on the security in the Middle East, which led to a change in Saudi foreign policy and perspectives, said Alshamri. “This was evident in the form of new policies pursued by Saudi Arabia to reach out to other global powers like China, Russia, India and particularly Turkey, which occupied a special interest due to its rising Islamic character,” he added.

As for Turkey, it can be said that the country is now realizing that “Islamic identity is not in conflict with its national secular character”. It is also reasonable to indicate that Turkish policymakers grasped the idea that historical and religious roots were more decisive factors than political or economic ones in explaining EU members’ attitudes toward Turkey’s request for full membership, he explained.

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