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Turkey invites Egypt diplomats for second round of talks

Ankara extended an invitation to Cairo for diplomatic consultations aiming to repair ties after years of tensions
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, pictured at the Egyptian foreign ministry in May (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkey has invited a diplomatic delegation from Egypt to visit Ankara on 7 and 8 September in order to discuss bilateral and regional issues, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The planned visit, which will mark the second round of diplomatic talks aiming to repair ties between the two countries, will be led by Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdi Loza and his Turkish counterpart, Sedat Onal.

A senior Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Middle East Eye earlier this month that it would take some time to fix the ties with Cairo.

“It is two steps forward and one step backward,” the official said. “Both sides have a considerable amount of demands for each other, but we managed to defuse tensions after cutting a deal with them in Libya. “

The official said the Muslim Brotherhood was no longer an issue between the two countries, since the movement had been weakened across the Middle East and North Africa, including in Tunisia.

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“However, the biggest question for Cairo remains whether (Turkish) President Tayyip Erdogan will be willing to shake hands with Egyptian President (Abdel Fattah) el Sisi or not,” the official added. “That’s their main demand.”

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On several occasions in the past, Erdogan hinted that he wouldn’t want to meet Sisi personally, but would permit other members of his government to hold talks with Egypt.

However, several Turkish officials have argued that a handshake between the two leaders wasn't necessary in order for Ankara and Cairo to maintain proper diplomatic ties and friendly relations.

In recent months, Turkey and Egypt have sought to mend relations that fractured when Ankara refused to recognise Sisi as the country's legitimate leader following a 2013 coup that ousted his predecessor, Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Erdogan was a vocal critic at the time of Sisi's human rights abuses against Brotherhood members in a post-coup crackdown.

The Turkish government lifted a veto against Egypt’s partnership activities with Nato last year, and ended the broadcast of political programming by Egyptian opposition TV channels based in Istanbul as part of efforts to repair ties with Cairo.

After talks between the countries' respective intelligence agencies, Turkey sent a diplomatic delegation to Cairo in May to conduct a first round of talks.

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