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Turkey ready to hold tripartite meeting on Libya, Egyptian sources say

Egypt and Turkey agree to evaluate outcome of ‘frank’ talks in Cairo and agree on next steps
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal (C) and his delegation meet with their Egyptian counterparts in foreign ministry headquarters in Egypt's capital Cairo on 5 May 2021 (AFP)

As Ankara and Cairo concluded a second day of talks on Thursday, Turkey said it is ready to hold tripartite meetings with Egypt and Libya to agree on disputed issues, including the presence of foreign mercenaries, Egyptian intelligence sources said. 

In a joint statement, Egypt and Turkey said they held “frank” talks on the conflict in Libya where they back competing factions, and on Syria and the security situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, in a push to rebuild their fractured relations.

Egypt and Turkey have backed competing factions in Libya where Turkish troops have supported the Tripoli-based government in repelling an attack from eastern forces backed by Egypt and Russia.

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"The discussions were frank and in-depth. They addressed bilateral issues as well as a number of regional issues, in particular the situation in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the need to achieve peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean region," the statement said.

"The two sides will evaluate the outcome of this round of consultations and agree on the next steps."

Relations between the two regional powers have been strained since the Egyptian army, led by then military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, toppled democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. 

Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, had been a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey said on Thursday it agrees that all foreign fighters in Libya need to leave the country, but Ankara has a bilateral agreement with the Libyan government for its troops to be stationed there.

The Turkish delegation also told Egyptians that Ankara could not hand over Muslim Brotherhood leaders wanted by Egypt, adding that most of those leaders are now legally residing in Turkey, the Egyptian sources said.

The talks in Cairo, led by deputy foreign ministers, were the latest in a series of rapprochement moves by both countries to improve strained ties.

Turkish officials did not comment on the content of the talks. However, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Ankara is ready to improve its ties with every country in the region, not just Egypt. Egypt has so far responded cautiously to Turkish overtures.