Top Turkish diplomat visits Cairo in effort to improve relations

Top Turkish diplomat visits Cairo in effort to improve relations
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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry for a visit to the country's capital, which came after 11 years of strained relations

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Cairo on Saturday for talks with Egyptian officials for the first time after 11 years as the regional powers seek to mend their frayed ties.

Relations were severely strained in 2013 after Egypt's then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the overthrow of Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was allied with Ankara, but have gradually eased since 2021.

At a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said talks with Turkey on the possibility of restoring ambassadorial-level relations would take place at "an appropriate time."

He said the talks had been "honest, profound and transparent."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 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 our best not to let our relations break down again in the future," Cavusoglu said.

Last month, Shoukry visited Turkey as a show of solidarity following the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria - the first visit by Egypt's top diplomat to Turkey since relations deteriorated.

"There is a political will and directives from the presidents of both countries when they met in Doha ... to launch the path towards a full normalization of relations," Shoukry said.

He was referring to a brief meeting between Sisi and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Qatar World Cup where they shook hands.

Erdogan once called Sisi a "tyrant" after he led the overthrow of Mursi, who was an ally of the Turkish leader and his Islamist-rooted AK Party.

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

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