BAHRAIN - Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that King Salman was the first leader to contact him after coup attempt in his country and assured him of solidarity with Turkey.
Speaking at the end of his visit to Bahrain, Erdogan said that unfolding events in Iraq and Syria threaten Turkey and that they are forced to take steps to secure themselves.
He said that Turkey aimed to create a safe zone in Syria, extending its military operations to the towns of Manbij and Raqqa after driving Daesh from Al-Bab, if it acts together with the US-led coalition.
In a speech in Bahrain and broadcast live on Turkish television, Erdogan said the planned safe zone would cover an area of at least 4,000-5,000 square kilometers (3,475 square miles) and would require a no-fly zone.
He also condemned Israel’s decision to ramp up settlements in the West Bank as an “absolute provocation”.
Israel announced plans last month for 3,000 more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank. It has also retroactively legalized about 4,000 settlement homes built on privately owned Palestinian land, a move that brought condemnation from the United Nations and the European Union.
Late Sunday, Erdogan said his country would cooperate with Bahrain for the “stability, peace, and future of the region”. His remarks were delivered in Manama during the first leg of a four-day, three-nation Gulf tour.
The Turkish president was honored by King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa with the medal of Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa during a ceremony.
“I receive this medal as a sign of the brotherhood between Turkey and Bahrain peoples,” Erdogan said.
Hamad said he was “honored” to give Erdogan the medal for his “efforts on protecting humanitarian values” and “contributing to the Islamic Ummah”.
Erdogan’s visit is part of Turkey’s drive to forge economic ties with Gulf nations, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.