April 27, 2015 / 2:38 PM / 3 years ago

Yemen, Syria, defense deals top agenda as Erdogan heads for Kuwait

ANKARA (Reuters) - The crises in Yemen and Syria as well as defense and construction deals will top the agenda when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets Kuwait’s emir this week, the latest sign of Turkish efforts to strengthen ties with Gulf Arab states.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan takes part in a welcoming ceremony in Kiev March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Erdogan has supported fellow Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies in their campaign against Iran-allied Houthi insurgents in Yemen and has repeatedly accused Tehran of seeking to dominate the Middle East.

“We will offer some deals to Kuwait that are beneficial to both countries, especially deals on defense,” Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara on Monday before leaving for Kuwait.

He said Turkish contractors had projects worth $1.6 billion in Kuwait and that he wanted to increase bilateral trade.

Kuwait, a major oil exporter, is part of the Saudi-led alliance that began air strikes last month on the Houthi militia which has seized large tracts of Yemen including the capital Sanaa.

Turkey, which has the second-largest army in the NATO military alliance, has not taken an active role in the operations, although it has said it is able to offer logistic and intelligence support.

“Regional issues will be discussed during the visit, including Syria and Yemen. Especially on Yemen, we will discuss what steps we can take together,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said last month that Iran’s efforts to dominate the Middle East had begun annoying Ankara, as well as Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries.

Reporting by Ercan Gurses; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Dominic Evans

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