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Turkey to re-establish Egypt friendship group in parliament

The move is yet another step by Ankara to improve relations with Cairo following a series of talks conducted by the respective intelligence agencies
People protest in front of the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul on 2 March 2019, during a demonstration against death penalties in Egypt after the execution of nine men (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul

The Turkish ruling AK Party on Tuesday submitted a proposal to the parliament speaker seeking to re-establish an inter-parliamentary friendship group with Egypt, amid growing rapprochement between the two regional powers. 

Bulent Turan, a senior official within the ruling party and a member of parliament, said in televised remarks that after recent talks and mutual goodwill by the two countries, now was a good time to re-establish the group.

“One of the steps we have taken following the inhumane coup in Egypt was to disband the interparliamentary group to express our solidarity with the people of Egypt”, he said. “After some reciprocal acts and everything that has been done so far, we believe re-establishing the parliamentary friendship group with Egypt will be valuable."

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The founding of the friendship group needs a rubber stamp from the foreign affairs committee in parliament, where the ruling party holds a majority. 

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

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

Earlier this month, in an apparent attempt towards reconciliation, senior Turkish officials, including the foreign and defence ministers, publicly called for improving relations.

Delicate negotiations

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.

Turkey was due to send a diplomatic delegation to Cairo for the first time since the coup, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week.

"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," Cavusoglu said.

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