Egypt temporarily suspends normalisation talks with Turkey, Turkish FM holds phone call with Egyptian counterpart

Cairo has temporarily suspended normalisation talks that Ankara requested to hold in April until further notice, having doubts over Turkey’s withdrawing its military presence from Libya, Al Arabiya reported on Friday, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hold a phone call with its Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on Saturday.

“Turkey had requested more time to withdraw its military advisors and members from Libya, while Egypt demanded Turkey for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from the conflict-strife North African country,” Al Arabiya said. This is also the first phone call between foreign ministers since 2013 when the relations between countries were fractured. 

Taking permanent measures against Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey and extradition of its top officials are Egypt’s other immediate expectations from Turkey to meet, in order normalise relations, it said.

Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been fractured since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in a 2013 military coup and launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkish President Erdoğan, who had forged close ties with the ousted Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi, frequently condemned Sisi as a dictator and Turkey became a safe haven for Egyptian exiles opposed to the government in Cairo.

As many as 20,000 members of the group live in Turkey, many of whom fled Egypt after the military coup in 2013, according to a recent report by U.S. think tank the Century Foundation.

On March 12, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey and Egypt have started diplomatic-level contacts.

“We have contacts both at the level of intelligence and foreign ministries with Egypt,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Within the scope of normalisation attempts with Egypt, Turkey has ordered Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated television channels based in Istanbul to halt criticism of Egypt, Al Arabiya reported on March 19. El Sharq TV, Watan TV and Mekameleen were threatened with fines for non-compliance, the news outlet said.

Meanwhile, in their phone conversation Çavuşoğlu and Shoukry celebrated the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that will start on April 13, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday.