Turkey to send senior level mission to Egypt next month, minister says

Turkey’s government said it will hold meetings with Egyptian officials at the start of May as part of a planned rapprochement between the two regional rivals.

Egypt and Turkey have agreed to upgrade contacts to foreign ministry level after meetings between officials of their intelligence agencies, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told NTV television on Thursday.

Relations with Egypt deteriorated following a military coup in the country in 2013, Çavuşoğlu said. But Egypt is an important country for everyone, including the Islamic world and Africa, he said.

Turkey and Egypt will hold the meetings at deputy foreign minister level, Çavuşoğlu said. They may then hold direct talks between their foreign ministers, he said.

Ties between Turkey and Egypt have worsened after the military coup usurped a Muslim Brotherhood government backed by Ankara. The two countries have also supported opposing sides in the Libya conflict and Turkey has been left out of a Mediterranean energy export agreement between Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Greece.  

Çavuşoğlu said that problems may exist in politics and diplomacy but relations can be improved through common understanding.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said this week that Turkey’s efforts to repair relations were “appreciated”, Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.

Çavuşoğlu had a phone call with Shoukry last week to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The call fell “within the context of Turkish statements and signals Egypt’s importance”, Shoukry said in an interview with the “Cairo Talk” program, according to the newspaper. He expressed hope that Turkey would move towards political openness, leading to further action, it said.

Turkey hosts senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Brotherhood television channels that oppose the government in Cairo.

(This story was updated with Egyptian minister's comments from the seventh paragraph.)