Turkish talks with Egypt next week could forge renewed cooperation between the estranged regional powers and help efforts to end the war in Libya, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said.
Relations have been strained since Egypt’s army toppled a Muslim Brotherhood president close to Turkey in 2013 in what Ankara said was a military coup.
Recently, however, Turkey has begun working to rebuild ties with Egypt and Gulf Arab states, trying to overcome differences which have left Ankara increasingly isolated in the Arab world.
Intelligence chiefs as well as foreign ministers of both countries have been in contact, and a Turkish diplomatic mission will visit Egypt in early May, Erdogan’s spokesman and adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview.
“Given the realities on the ground I think it’s in the interests of both countries and the region to normalize relations with Egypt,” he said.
In a gesture to Cairo last month, Turkey asked Egyptian opposition television channels operating on its territory to moderate criticism of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Egypt welcomed the move but has been publicly cautious about Turkish calls for better ties between the two countries which have also supported rival sides in Libya’s conflict.
“Rapprochement with Egypt…will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya and that may sometimes pose a security threat for Egypt,” Kalin said.
He said Turkey would discuss security in Libya, where a United Nations-backed transitional government took over last month, with Egypt and other countries.
But despite a UN call for all foreign forces to leave the country, he indicated that Turkish military officers and allied Syrian fighters would be staying.
“We have an agreement that is still holding there with the Libyan government,” he said, referring to a 219 accord which paved the way for decisive Turkish intervention in support of the Tripoli-based government.