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Iran Press TV

Turkey, Egypt kick off diplomatic talks in Cairo to mend relations

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 05 May 2021 6:23 AM

Turkey and Egypt have kicked off a diplomatic rapprochement after years of political estrangement, with a Turkish delegation arriving in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for talks.

Diplomats from both countries announced Tuesday that political consultations would be held in the Egyptian capital on Wednesday and Thursday.

"These exploratory discussions will focus on the necessary steps that may lead toward the normalization of relations between the two countries, bilaterally and in the regional context," the Foreign Ministries of both countries said in a statement.

The diplomatic consultations will be led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and Ambassador Sedat Onal and his Egyptian counterpart, Hamdi Sanad Loza, according to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

The development came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last month that Ankara had made "diplomatic contact" with Cairo through their intelligence services. He said the diplomatic channel would be pursued by the foreign ministries.

The talks led to a mutually agreeable strategy, according to Cavusoglu, who said later that he could meet his Egyptian counterpart as well.

The two countries have been at odds over several issues, including the conflict in Libya and maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The presidents of the two countries have been sparring since the Egyptian military's 2013 ouster of democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo.

Following the military coup, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to accept President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the legitimate president of the North African nation.

Sisi is also opposed to Turkey's claims in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions further escalated between them when the conflict began in Libya, with Cairo and Ankara backing rival sides.

Libya descended into chaos in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The country had since 2014 been split between two rival seats of power, namely the internationally-recognized government, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, protected by the rebels.

Since the selection this year of a new interim Libyan prime minister, both Egypt and Turkey have appeared more open to a political solution to that conflict.

Observers say Cairo has not appeared to share the same level of enthusiasm for mending ties as Turkey.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said back in March that there was "a great deal of mistrust fueled by eight years of open hostility, and so Egypt feels hesitant."

"Words are not enough, they must be matched by deeds," he said.

Cairo had previously conditioned the restoration of relations with Turkey on the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Libya.

Turkey deployed military troops to Libya in early January 2020 to support the UN-backed government.

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