Turkey and Egypt hold 2nd round of political talks in Ankara

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Turkey and Egypt held the second round of their political consultations in Ankara on Tuesday.

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and his Egyptian counterpart Hamdi Sanad Loza led their respective delegations, a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Noting that bilateral issues were discussed during the first day of talks, the statement said, delegations are expected to exchange views on regional issues during the second day of talks on Wednesday.

“The parties aim to advance and normalize relations based on mutual benefit,” he added.

Earlier this year, Turkey said it had resumed diplomatic contacts with Egypt and wanted to improve cooperation after years of tensions that began with the severance of relations in 2013.

In May, a delegation of senior Turkish officials traveled to Egypt for an official visit – the first since 2013 – to discuss the normalization of diplomatic relations as part of the two countries’ efforts to improve bilateral relations which are deteriorated after the Arab Spring.

On May 5, a Turkish delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Önal visited Cairo at the invitation of Egypt. At the end of the visit, the two countries issued a joint statement describing the exploratory round of bilateral talks between them as “frank and thorough”.

On May 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the start of a new phase in relations with Egypt, stressing that the talks would continue, develop and expand.

Egypt and Turkey have not shared ambassadors since 2013, when relations deteriorated following the ousting of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by military leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now president of the country.

Turkey-Egypt relations have been continuing at the charge d’affaires level since 2013. During this period, brief meetings took place between the foreign ministers of the two countries on various occasions.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Embassy in Cairo and the Consulate in Alexandria, as well as the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara and the Consulate in Istanbul, continued their usual activities.

Turkey also continued on Tuesday to reach out to regional rivals Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in another attempt to mend frayed ties that have stoked regional tensions.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said his country was taking “positive steps” to improve relations as Turkish and Egyptian officials held a second round of talks in Ankara.

“Our friends from the ministry are meeting (Egyptian officials),” he said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV. “If we decide together after the meetings, we will take the necessary mutual steps to appoint an ambassador.”

“There is no enduring friendship or enmity in international relations,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The minister raised the possibility of concluding a maritime agreement with Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean, similar to the one concluded with the government in Tripoli at the end of 2019. This agreement has led to renewed tensions between Turkey and neighboring Greece and Greek Cyprus about energy exploration in the Region.

“They (Egypt) will make more gains if they make a deal with us,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu proposed a summit of Eastern Mediterranean nations to reconcile the differences.

Turkey has been at odds with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on a number of issues, most recently the conflict in Libya, where Ankara supported the UN-recognized administration in Tripoli while his Arab rivals backed an opposing faction led by putschist General Khalia. Haftar.

Experts say several developments, including the change of administration in the United States, natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean as well as new alliances in the Middle East, have prompted growing diplomacy between Ankara and Cairo.

Journalist Mustafa Özcan told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the two countries have expressed their willingness to restore relations and that relations are improving, albeit slowly.

Özcan pointed out that Turkey is a neighbor of the Arab world and that Turkey and Egypt have common interests in Libya, North Africa, Syria and Iraq.

On the other side, Egyptian journalist Saliha Allam said that Cairo and Ankara know the importance of improving relations.

“General interests and developments on the international scene oblige the two countries to postpone their disagreements and to act together on certain issues. Egypt needs Turkey in some regional issues, just like Turkey needs Egypt in some issues,” Allam said, adding that while the two countries cannot overcome disagreements over the Muslim Brotherhood, the issues of Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean are priorities.

Muhammed Zevavi of Sakarya University said new alliances in the region are influencing Ankara-Cairo relations and underlined divisions between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Zevavi also said that the two countries could conclude an agreement on maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean.

“This agreement would disturb Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration, Israel and France.”

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