Turkey, Egypt FMs pledge to reboot ties after decade-long rift

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The foreign ministers of Turkey and Egypt pledged to end decade-long frosty relations between the countries over differences in politics and regional conflicts.

“We largely agree on most issues. We have to improve bilateral relations in every field from transportation to trade,” Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

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Cavusoglu’s visit, the first by a Turkish foreign minister to Egypt in 11 years, came three weeks after Shoukry visited Turkey to express solidarity after catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and neighboring Syria.

The nascent diplomatic thaw also comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to reset strained ties with the Arab world ahead of elections in May.

“We want to increase our diplomatic relations to the highest level,” Cavusoglu said. He confirmed discussions with Shoukry on reopening their respective embassies. Neither minister gave a time-frame for appointing ambassadors. “We also want to take solid steps to improve ties from energy and economy to military ties,” Cavusoglu said.

Both ministers expressed interest in developing energy relations, including the possible sale of Egyptian liquefied natural gas to Turkey.

Relations between the two countries have been sour for years over Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has classified as a terrorist organization. They declined further with the 2013 military ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

Egypt and Turkey also have been at odds in other regional conflicts, as well as clashing over competing energy claims in the East Mediterranean.

Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, shook hands at the World Cup football tournament in Doha in November, and Turkey’s leader said he hoped for high-level talks to repair ties. Sisi also called Erdogan following the earthquakes that killed tens of thousands.

“We’ve been tasked with working to arrange a meeting between our presidents later on,” Cavusoglu said.

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