This content was published on May 06, 2021 – Jul 19:23,
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt and Turkey held talks on Thursday on the conflict in Libya and Syria and the security situation in the eastern Mediterranean, in an effort to rebuild their strained relations.
The talks, which were held over two days, led by the two foreign ministers, were the first public session at a high level between the two countries in years after a dispute over opposing positions on political Islam and a dispute over sovereignty and rights in the eastern Mediterranean waters.
Turkey is seeking to repair relations with Arab countries allied with the United States, including Egypt, after relations were negatively affected by political competition and military interventions. The Egyptian response so far has been characterized by caution against Turkish initiatives.
A joint statement said, “The discussions were frank and in-depth, as they touched upon bilateral issues, as well as a number of regional issues, especially the situation in Libya, Syria and Iraq and the need to achieve peace and security in the eastern Mediterranean region.”
“The two sides will evaluate the outcome of this round of consultations and agree on next steps,” the statement added.
Two Egyptian intelligence sources said that Turkey was ready to hold a tripartite meeting between Turkish, Egyptian and Libyan officials to reach understandings on contentious issues in Libya, including the presence of foreign fighters.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that Turkey and Germany agree that all foreign mercenaries should leave Libya, but that Ankara has a bilateral agreement with the Libyan government regarding the stationing of its forces there.
The two sources stated that the Turkish delegation told the Egyptian side that Ankara could not hand over the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood that Egypt is requesting, explaining that most of these leaders now have legal residency in Turkey.
Relations between the two regional powers have been strained since the Egyptian army in 2013 ousted the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and is close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Each country expelled the other’s ambassador, and Erdogan called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi an autocrat.
Turkey says that it is still opposed to declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist” group in Egypt, although it has asked Egyptian opposition channels operating from its territory to reduce its criticism of the Sisi government.
Turkish officials did not comment on the contents of the talks. However, Turkish Vice President Fuat Aktay said that Ankara is completely open to improving its relations with all countries in the region, not just Egypt.
“The move by Egypt and Turkey together will make important contributions to peace and development in the region. God willing, we will see that in the coming period,” he added during an interview with NTV.
(Press coverage by Aiden Lewis, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, Alaa Sweilem, and Mahmoud Reda Murad from Cairo – Co-reporting by Tawan Jamrakji from Ankara – Prepared by Salma Negm for the Arabic Newsletter – Edited by Muhammad al-Yamani)