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Ankara, Cairo agree to maximize diplomatic ties: Turkish foreign minister

Ankara and Cairo agreed to maximize the diplomatic relations that were stalled after the 2013 military coup in Egypt, according to Türkiye’s foreign minister.

“We agreed to maximize our diplomatic relations. We have evaluated what steps we will take in the next process. I invited him (Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry) to Ankara. I said that I wanted to host him, especially during the month of Ramadan,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came after he met with Shoukry in the capital Cairo on Saturday, where the two ministers discussed bilateral relations and regional and international issues.

Diplomatic relations between Türkiye and Egypt have been at the level of charges d’affaires on both sides since Egypt’s 2013 military coup which overthrew the late President Mohammed Morsi.

Cavusoglu is the first foreign minister to visit Egypt from Türkiye in 11 years.

About the appointment of ambassadors, Cavusoglu said it was previously planned that if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi got together, they would announce it.

“We were expecting the highest level of the announcement. If the (presidents’) meeting is delayed after the election (in Türkiye), we will consult again. We will decide on this soon. But we have already announced at the news conference that we have started this process,” he added.

After the Feb. 6 quakes in Türkiye, Shoukry visited the quake-hit Adana and Mersin provinces, and his visit to Türkiye was the first by an Egyptian foreign minister in more than a decade.

Meanwhile, al-Sisi was among the leaders who made a phone call with Erdogan following the earthquakes, offering his condolences to the quake victims.

– Bilateral ties

Cavusoglu said they have discussed ways to develop bilateral relations and “discussed existing matters, issues to overcome.”

“We exchanged views, especially on regional issues. Then we held a meeting between delegations and discussed everything. In other words, we touched on all matters from energy, shipping, transportation to our companies, and investments here,” he said, adding that topics related to “energy, logistics, education, and culture” were also addressed.

Noting that the Egyptian side wants Turkish companies to increase their investments in Egypt, Cavusoglu said the bilateral trade volume currently nears $10 billion.

On liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, the Turkish minister said the balance is in Egypt’s favor which Türkiye does not complain about.

“We want to make a long-term LNG agreement. Because, thanks to our LNG terminals, we are currently exporting gas to southeast European countries and Balkan countries. Therefore, Egyptian gas can be exported to third countries via Türkiye,” he said.

During the talks, the Turkish side also proposed to establish a JETCO (Joint Economic and Trade Commission) mechanism between the two countries as the most recent meeting was held in 1996.

“On the other hand, we decided to expand our cooperation, especially in renewable energy and solar energy,” Cavusoglu added.

The Turkish foreign minister further said they have “openly and clearly” exchanged views on regional matters.

Citing the bilateral regional dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over an Ethiopian dam that could curtail Egypt’s share of the Nile River’s waters, Türkiye suggested it could play a mediator role as it has good ties with both Ethiopia and Sudan, according to Cavusoglu.

“We discussed Libya in a little more detail. We agree that we are not rivals in Libya and that we should work together for the stability of Libya. We will intensify our consultations on this issue as well,” he noted.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan

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