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Turkey-Egypt ties: Ankara to send first diplomatic delegation since 2013 coup

A Turkish delegation led by a deputy foreign minister will visit Cairo next month after receiving an invitation
A woman waves an Egyptian flag in front of the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul on March 2, 2019 during a demonstration against death penalties in Egypt after the recent execution of nine men (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkey will send a diplomatic delegation to Cairo for the first time since a military coup ousted Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, as relations improve between the two countries. 

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the trip on Thursday and said the decision to send diplomats to Cairo came after intelligence agencies from both countries held talks in 2020. 

"Now it is more appropriate to begin diplomatic talks," said Cavusoglu during a live interview with NTV. 

"A Turkish delegation led by the deputy foreign minister will visit Cairo at the beginning of May, and after this visit, I will meet Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry."

'Egypt is an important country for the region, and we hope to take our relations to another level'

- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Cavusoglu confirmed that he spoke with Shoukry last month to offer Ankara's help to remove a massive container ship that blocked the Suez Canal. 

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"I told him that we had emergency and rescue ships that could be used in the Suez Canal if needed," said Cavusoglu. 

The foreign minister added that Shoukry returned his call last week by conveying his best wishes for Ramadan and thanked him for the offer of help. 

"Even after the coup, we have always said that we don't have any issue with the Egyptian people," Cavusoglu said during televised remarks. 

"Egypt is an important country for the region, and we hope to take our relations to another level."

In recent months, Turkey and Egypt have sought to mend relations that were fractured after Ankara refused to recognise Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the country's legitimate leader following a coup that ousted his predecessor. 

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also a vocal critic of Sisi's human rights abuses against Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members in a post-coup crackdown. 

Earlier this month, in an apparent attempt towards rapprochement, senior Turkish officials, including the foreign and defence ministers, publicly called to improve relations.

Turkey also asked Egyptian opposition channels located in the country to tone down their criticism of the Sisi government because of ongoing delicate negotiations between the two countries.

The Turkish government also decided to issue citizenship to nearly 700 Egyptians living in exile last year after determining that the applicants were highly skilled and well-educated professionals. 

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