Erdogan says Turkey wants to expand Egypt talks

By: AFP      Published: 07:30 PM, 7 May, 2021
Erdogan says Turkey wants to expand Egypt talks

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey wanted to reinforce efforts to restore the "historic" friendship with Egypt, after the two regional rivals held their first direct talks in eight years.

Ankara and Cairo have been sparring since the Egyptian military's 2013 overthrow of the late Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who Erdogan backed personally.

A Turkish delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal held two days of talks this week in Cairo that both sides described as "frank and in-depth".

Erdogan promised that dialogue would continue. 

"A new process (with Egypt) has started," he told reporters after attending Friday prayers at an Istanbul mosque. 

"In this process, first our intelligence agencies started talks followed by the members of the foreign ministries," he said. 

"We will expand, develop and continue this," he said.

"We are making efforts to restore our historic relations not as enemies but as friends." 

The talks in Cairo came after Turkey told members of Egypt's Istanbul-based opposition media to "tone down" criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The request appeared to be a gesture of goodwill aimed at mending ties that were eroded further by the two countries backing opposing sides in the now-unwinding conflict in Libya.

Ankara is also opening up to Saudi Arabia, an important trading partner that is crucial to Turkey's efforts to break out of its growing diplomatic isolation, which became more stark with the election of US President Joe Biden.

A Turkish official told AFP on Thursday that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu plans to visit Riyadh next week. 

That would make Cavusoglu the first Turkish official to visit the kingdom since the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh's Istanbul consulate.

Ankara's relations with Riyadh sharply deteriorated in the wake of Khashoggi's death, which Erdogan blamed on senior Saudi officials.