Cairo announces new round of ‘exploratory talks’ with Turkey

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The Egyptian foreign ministry announced on Tuesday the launch of a new round of exploratory talks with Turkey in preparation for the normalisation of relations between the two countries.

The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that at the invitation of the Turkish foreign ministry, Deputy Foreign minister Ambassador Hamdi Sanad Loza will visit Ankara on September 7-8, to hold a second round of exploratory talks between the two countries, which are expected to address bilateral relations as well as a number of regional issues.

The visit to Turkey comes four months after the launch of the first round of Egyptian-Turkish consultations, which was held last May.

The talks were the first of their kind since 2013.

In a earlier statement, the Egyptian foreign ministry said that the consultations would be “exploratory” and will aim to determine the necessary steps for the normalisation of relations between the two countries at the bilateral level and in the regional context.

During the first round, discussions focused on resuming links and halting any hostile activities targeting Egypt and its leadership from Turkish territory, as well as stopping media campaigns using satellite TV platforms from Turkey and preventing the use Turkish of soil by anti-Egyptian extremist groups.

Analysts believe talks ended after the first round because of differences over Libya and the east Mediterranean region, together with contentious issues dealing with Muslim Brotherhood elements based in Turkey.

Turkey subsequently began to restrict the Brotherhood’s media and political activities on its soil. Last June, it demanded that media professionals affiliated with the group stop propaganda activities on social media and threatened to suspend their accounts permanently.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Turkey’s decision to ban the Brotherhood’s media activities and stop their incitement was a “positive step”, consistent with the rules of international law and normal relations between countries based on non-interference in internal affairs.

He stressed that the normalisation of relations is tied not only to Brotherhood activities but also to Ankara’s stand on the Libyan crisis.

Last June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to “increase cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states to the maximum extent,” adding that there were opportunities for cooperation with Egypt in a wide geographic area ranging from the eastern Mediterranean to Libya.

Shoukry stressed that the Turkish initiatives led to boosting of communications to the political level.

“There will be other exploratory rounds that will then lead to the normalisation of relations when we are reassured,” he said.

This new round of Egyptian-Turkish talks comes in wake of the improvement of Turkish relations with some Gulf countries, most notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

After the Gulf reconciliation momentum  was set in motion by the Al-Ula summit, Turkey sought to build new relations with Saudi Arabia. Meetings were held between Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Indications of a breakthrough in relations between Ankara and Abu Dhabi have emerged in recent weeks, beginning with a visit to Turkey by Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE national security adviser.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held a telephone discussion with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week to discuss bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them.

Source: Arab Weekly

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