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Turkey’s top diplomat visits Cairo to try to tighten ties


CAIRO — Turkey’s top diplomat was in Cairo on Saturday for talks with Egyptian officials as regional powers seek to mend their frayed ties after years of tension.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister, landed in the Egyptian capital on Saturday morning. He was the highest-ranking Turkish official to visit the Arab world’s most populous nation in more than a decade.

Egypt and Turkey have been at loggerheads since the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his divisive year in office. Morsi was from the Turkish-backed Muslim Brotherhood group. Egypt has designated the group as a terrorist organization.

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

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

Abu Zaid said on Friday that the meetings aimed to launch an “in-depth dialogue” to reach a “common understanding in order to realize the interests of both countries”. A joint press conference was scheduled for later Saturday.

Egypt and Turkey back opposing sides in the Libyan 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 eastern-based commander Khalifa Hifter, which is supported by Egypt.

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

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

In recent years, Turkey has abandoned its critical approach to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government as it attempts to mend relations.

In November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and el-Sissi were pictured shaking hands at the World Cup in Qatar. And last month, Shoukry traveled to earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria to show his solidarity with the two nations.

washingtonpost Gt

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