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UAE-Turkey: Emirati foreign minister calls Turkish counterpart for first time in five years

Official says the call request came from Abu Dhabi, in the latest example of thawing relations
A woman walks between UAE flags at Kite Beach in Dubai on the eve of Flag Day, 2 November 2017 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had a phone call with his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed on Thursday night to exchange messages of congratulations over the holy month of Ramadan, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“The call request came from the Emirati government,” a Turkish official told Middle East Eye. “It was a polite exchange. It is significant considering the lack of such an engagement for the past five years.”

The phone call came amid Turkey’s recent outreach to Arab countries who had been increasingly at odds with Ankara due to regional disagreements.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been particularly problematic for the Turkish government, which accused the Emirati leaders of backing a coup attempt in 2016. Turkey also blamed an Emirati Mirage jet for an attack against the Turkish air defence systems in Libya last year.

'The call request came from the Emirati government. It was a polite exchange. It is significant considering the lack of such an engagement for the past five years'

- Turkish official

However, since Joe Biden was elected US president, both countries have had a change of heart in their regional policies. Turkey held talks with Egypt and Israel through its intelligence agencies to repair bilateral ties.

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Last January, the UAE's then-Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, suggested that the relations between the two rivals could be "recalibrated".

"We don't have any problems with Turkey, like border issues or other such issues," Gargash said during a Sky News Arabia interview, adding that if Ankara were to cut off its "support to Muslim Brotherhood" it could "recalibrate its relations with Arabs".

Cavusoglu said earlier this year that it was possible to reset relations with the UAE if it took steps to alleviate Turkish concerns. Turkish officials said the UAE has in recent months eased pressure on Turkish businessmen and restarted flights between Istanbul and Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The Emirati government also quickly issued agreements to usher in a new Turkish ambassador.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s recent steps against the Muslim Brotherhood, including a request for Egyptian opposition channels to tone down their criticism of the Egyptian government, are believed to have been welcomed in Emirati government circles.

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