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Tuesday February 20, 2024

Erdogan and Egypt’s Sisi to meet: Turkish minister

Turkey’s top diplomat says Erdogan and Sisi will meet to mark end of a decade of estrangement between two countries

By AFP
March 18, 2023
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) holds Cairo talks with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry as the two governments move to repair ties, on March 18, 2023. — AFP
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) holds Cairo talks with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry as the two governments move to repair ties, on March 18, 2023. — AFP

CAIRO: Turkey’s top diplomat said Saturday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would meet to mark the end of a decade of estrangement between the two countries.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking alongside his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry during a visit to Cairo, said Ankara wanted "to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries at the highest level".

Shoukry said there was a "political will coming from the presidents of our two countries... seeking to normalise relations".

Cavusoglu’s visit follows a trip by Shoukry to Turkey last month to show solidarity after the devastating earthquake that claimed tens of thousands of lives in Turkey and neighbouring Syria.

"It is possible that we will disagree in the future, but we will do everything to avoid breaking our relations again," Cavusoglu said.

Relations ran into trouble after the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, an ally of Turkey.

At the time, Erdogan said he would "never" speak to "anyone" like Sisi.

But in November, Sisi and Erdogan shook hands in Qatar, in what the Egyptian presidency heralded as a new beginning in their ties, and the two leaders then spoke by telephone after the February 6 earthquake.

Cavusoglu on Saturday said the meeting between Erdogan and Sisi would take place "after the Turkish elections", including the presidential vote slated for May 14.

While diplomatic exchanges were once frosty, business never stopped: in 2022, Turkey was the largest importer of Egyptian products totalling $4 billion.

But disagreements remain, with Turkey home to Arab journalists critical of their governments, in particular Egyptian media close to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group outlawed by Cairo.

Cairo and Ankara also disagree over Libya, where Turkey has sent military advisers backing forces opposed to Egyptian ally Khalifa Haftar, the eastern based Libyan military strongman.