By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA (Reuters) -Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s de facto ruler, will visit Turkey for the first time in years as the regional rivals work to repair frayed relations, two Turkish officials said on Monday.
The visit, which will include talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, is scheduled to take place as soon as Nov. 24, the officials said.
Turkey and the UAE have been battling for influence in the Middle East since the Arab uprisings erupted a decade ago. They have supported opposing sides in Libya’s civil war, and their disputes extended to the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf, before Ankara started a charm offensive in the region last year.
In August, Erdogan said Turkey and the UAE had made progress in improving ties, which could lead to significant investment in Turkey, after a rare meeting with UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Two weeks after their talks, Erdogan held a phone call with Sheikh Mohammed.
The two leaders will discuss bilateral ties, trade, regional developments and investments, one of the Turkish officials said on condition of anonymity. The second official said the final date had not yet been set.
“Sheikh Mohammed’s visit will contribute to bringing ties to a better place,” the second official said, adding that a “high-level visit” from Turkey would be on the agenda soon.
The UAE foreign ministry declined to comment.
Asked about the planned visit, a spokesman for Erdogan’s AK Party did not specify a date but said talks between Ankara and Abu Dhabi on normalising ties would continue and that the progress made so far was positive.
“This rapprochement between the UAE and Turkey, this intense cooperation for the resolution of problems, is good,” Omer Celik told reporters, adding Ankara had a “comprehensive action plan and sincere approach” for resolving regional disputes.
“Dialogue, contacts, and negotiations for the resolution of various issues (with the UAE) will continue strongly.”
Last year Turkey accused the UAE of bringing chaos to the Middle East through interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and others criticised Turkish military actions. Erdogan had also threatened to break off diplomatic ties with the UAE after the Gulf state’s move to normalise ties with Israel.
Ankara’s efforts to repair ties come after similar overtures this year towards Egypt and Saudi Arabia which have yielded little public progress.
With political differences still running deep between Abu Dhabi and Ankara, the two sides have focused on economic ties and de-escalation, rather than resolving their ideological rift.
Turkey said it was in talks with the UAE over investments in energy, such as power generation. The UAE has said it seeks deeper trade and economic ties with Turkey, and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds have also made significant investments in Turkish online grocer Getir and e-commerce platform Trendyol.
Turkey and the UAE will also hold a business forum in Dubai on Nov. 23.
(Reporting by Orhan Coskun in Ankara and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans)