Top diplomats from Egypt and Turkey hold first talks in Cairo in a decade | News

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Turkey’s counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu say diplomatic ties should be raised at ambassadorial level “as soon as possible”.

Egypt’s foreign minister said talks with Turkey on the possibility of restoring ties at ambassadorial level would take place “at the appropriate time” during Turkey’s top diplomat’s first visit to Cairo since ties broke a decade ago.

At a joint press conference on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would expand diplomatic ties with Egypt at the ambassadorial level “as soon as possible”.

“I am very glad that we are taking concrete steps to normalize relations with Egypt… We will do our best not to cut ties again in the future,” Cavusoglu said.

Shoukry said, “We will get into talks (about restoring ambassadors) in due course, depending on the positive results this brings.”

Relations between Turkey and Egypt were severely strained after Egypt’s then-army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led the 2013 ousting of Ankara ally Mohamed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood. El-Sisi was elected President the following year.

The two countries have also clashed over Libya in recent years, where they backed opposing factions in an unresolved conflict, and also over sea borders in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.

Cavusoglu said Saturday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt’s el-Sisi would meet “after Turkey’s elections,” including the presidential election scheduled for May 14, to mark the end of a decade of estrangement between the two countries to mark.

Diplomatic relations ‘still weak’

Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar, reporting from Istanbul, said two intertwined issues in Egypt-Turkey relations remain unresolved.

“There is a promise to restore ties, but relations at the diplomatic level are still quite low,” Serdar said, noting that the countries’ opposing positions on Libya and the eastern Mediterranean are the main bones of contention.

“Turkey and Egypt support different sides. Turkey supports the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government [in Libya] while Egypt is there supporting Benghazi, Khalifa Haftar and his army,” Serdar said.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed insurgency that toppled Muammar Gaddafi and split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions, drawing in regional powers.

“In 2019 the East Mediterranean Gas Forum was established… but Turkey was deliberately excluded. In response, Turkey has signed a maritime agreement with the Tripoli-based government,” Serdar added.

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 temporary reconciliation, Ankara asked opposition Egyptian TV channels operating in Turkey to tone down their criticism of Egypt.

Morsi died in prison in Egypt in 2019. Other senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood are imprisoned in Egypt or have fled abroad, and the group remains banned.

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

The Egyptian government, struggling with acute foreign exchange shortages, said Turkish companies have pledged $500 million in new investments in Egypt.


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