Erdoğan says Turkey wants to expand Egypt talks

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 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, Agence France-Presse reported.

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

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

Erdoğan promised that dialogue would continue.

“A new process [with Egypt] has started,” he told reporters after attending Friday prayers at an İstanbul mosque.

“In this process, first our intelligence agencies started talks followed by 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 İstanbul-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 repairing 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 starker with the election of US President Joe Biden.

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

That would make Çavuşoğlu the first Turkish official to visit the kingdom since the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul.

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

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