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Friday, March 24, 2023

Top Turkish diplomat visits Cairo in effort to mend ties

Turkiye`s chief diplomat was in Cairo on Saturday for talks with Egyptian officials as the regional powers seek to mend their frayed ties after years of tensions. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkiye`s foreign minister, landed in the Egyptian capital early Saturday. He was the highest ranking Turkish official to visit the Arab World`s most populous nation in over a decade.

Egypt and Turkiye have been at loggerheads since the Egyptian military`s 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid mass protest against his divisive one year of rule. Morsi hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood group, supported by Turkiye. Egypt has designated the group a terrorist organisation.

Cavusoglu met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry for talks on “various aspects” of bilateral relations, said Ahmed Abu Zaid, a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry on Saturday.

He said they also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest, an apparent reference to the conflict in Libya and tensions related to gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Abu Zaid said on Friday that the meetings are aimed at launching a “deep dialogue” to reach a “common understanding to achieve both countries` interests”. A joint news conference was scheduled for later Saturday.

Egypt and Turkiye back opposing sides in Libya`s conflict, which nearly led to a direct confrontation between the two US allies in 2020 at the height of an attack on the Libyan capital by east-based commander Khalifa Hifter, who is backed by Egypt.

Also read: Turkiye president Erodgan ratifies Finland`s NATO application

Egypt, Greece and some other European countries were also angered by a 2019 deal between Turkiye and Libya that sought to boost Turkish maritime rights and influence in the eastern Mediterranean.

Former Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the last highest-ranking official to visit Cairo in 2012 when he attended a Syrian opposition conference held by the Arab League.

Turkiye in recent years abandoned its critical approach to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi`s government, as it tried to repair relations.

In November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and el-Sissi were photographed shaking hands during the World Cup in Qatar. And last month, Shoukry visited quake-hit Turkiye and Syria to show solidarity with the two nations.

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