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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Top Egyptian, Turkish diplomats hold first Cairo talks in effort to restore relations

Egypt’s foreign minister said talks with Turkey on the possibility of resuming ambassadorial ties would take place at an “opportune time”, during the first visit by Turkey’s top diplomat to Cairo since ties were severed a decade ago.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that Turkey would upgrade its diplomatic relations with Egypt to ambassadorial level “as soon as possible”.

“I am very happy that we are taking concrete steps to normalize relations with Egypt… We will do everything in our power not to break our ties again in the future,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Shoukry said: “We will come to talks (on the restoration of ambassadors) at an appropriate time, depending on the positive results that will bring.”

Ties between Turkey and Egypt were severely strained after then-Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood, an ally of Ankara. Sisi was elected president the following year.

Last month, Shoukry visited Turkey in a show of solidarity after the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

The two countries have also clashed in recent years over Libya, where they have backed rival factions in the unresolved conflict, as well as maritime borders in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.

Consultations between senior foreign ministry officials in Ankara and Cairo began in 2021, amid a push by Turkey to ease tensions with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As part of this tentative reconciliation, Ankara asked Egyptian opposition TV channels operating in Turkey to tone down their criticism of Egypt.

Morsi died in prison in Egypt in 2019. Other high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood are imprisoned in Egypt or have fled abroad, and the group remains outlawed.

Last month, Egypt’s government, which is facing an acute shortage of foreign currency, said Turkish companies had committed to $500 million in new investments in Egypt.

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