Turkey’s top diplomat visits Cairo in effort to mend ties after years of tensions

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CAIRO (AP) – Turkey’s top diplomat was in Cairo Saturday for talks with Egyptian officials as regional powers seek to mend their broken ties after years of tension.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, landed in the Egyptian capital early Saturday. 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 of rule. Morsi belonged to the Turkish-backed Muslim Brotherhood group. Egypt has designated the group as a terrorist organization.

Cavusoglu met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry for talks on “various aspects” of bilateral relations, Ahmed Abu Zaid, a spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry, said on Saturday.

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

Abu Zaid said on Friday that the meetings are aimed at launching a “deep dialogue” to reach a “common understanding to achieve the interests of both countries.” A news conference was scheduled for later Saturday.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, second right, meets with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, third left, and his delegations at Tahrir Palace in Cairo, Egypt, March 18, 2023 (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Egypt and Turkey returned to opposing sides in the Libyan conflict, which led to an almost direct confrontation between the two US allies in 2020 when the attack on the capital of Libya by the eastern-based commander Khalifa Hifter, who supported by Egypt.

Egypt, Greece and several other European countries were also angry about the 2019 agreement between Turkey and Libya that sought to strengthen Turkey’s maritime rights and influence in the eastern Mediterranean.

Former Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the last high-ranking official to visit Cairo in 2012 when he attended a conference of the Syrian opposition held by the Arab League.

In recent years, Turkey abandoned its critical approach to the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, while trying to repair relations.

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

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