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Suez Canal blocked: Turkey offers Egypt help to open the passage

Ankara’s offer comes as the two countries have recently moved to repair diplomatic ties
This handout satellite images courtesy of Cnes 2021 released on 25 March 2021 shows the Ever Given container ship lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway of Egypt's Suez Canal (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

The Turkish government has offered to help Cairo in its emergency operations to reopen the Suez Canal, after a massive container ship ran aground on Tuesday, blocking the major trade waterway ever since. 

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Turkish Minister of Transport Adil Karaismailoglu said on Friday that Turkey was ready to help and dispatch emergency response vessel Nene Hatun, if Egypt requested it. 

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“Our vessel Nene Hatun is among the special ships in the world that could undertake such big operations,” Turkish national news agency Anadolu quoted him as saying.

The Nene Hatun, which belongs to the interior ministry, has a bollard pull of 205 tonnes, a fire extinguisher that can pump up water as high as 70 metres, as well as a 100-metres deep underwater diving system, a pressure room, 15 scuba divers, labs and a small medical unit. 

The offer comes as Turkey and Egypt have recently sought to mend their ties, which have been deeply fractured since Ankara refused to recognise Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the legitimate leader of the country, after he came to power following a coup that unseated democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Earlier this month, in an apparent attempt at rapprochement, senior Turkish officials, including the foreign and defence ministers, publicly called for an improvement in relations.

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

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