The Egyptian presidency has hailed what it calls a new beginning in ties with Turkey, a day after Egypt’s leader shook hands with his Turkish counterpart for the first time.
Presidents Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan “confirmed the depth of historical ties between the two countries” during their brief encounter in Doha, spokesman Bassam Radi said in a statement on Monday, signalling Egypt is ready to bridge their nine-year rift.
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The Turkish presidency on Sunday released a photo of Erdogan and el-Sisi sharing an enthusiastic handshake in front of Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Doha, with which Cairo has also recently mended relations.
The leaders met on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Qatar.
On Sunday, Erdogan described his meeting with el-Sisi as the first step to launch a new path in relations.
“We said that a process can begin,” Erdogan said. “A step has been taken here to start such a process, and we had the talks. It is my hope that we want to move the process that started with our ministers to a good point later, hopefully to the high-level meetings.”
The unity of the Turkish nation and the Egyptian people in the past is very important to Turkey, Erdogan said, adding: “Why not again? Why not start again? We gave a signal.”
Relations between Cairo and Ankara turned frosty in 2013 after el-Sisi deposed President Mohamed Morsi and outlawed his Muslim Brotherhood party.
Turkey has for years served as a refuge for opposition activists from Egypt, further stoking tensions between the two regional powers.
Turkey and Egypt held their first diplomatic talks in eight years last year.
Also last year, Erdogan’s government demanded that popular Egyptian talk show hosts living in exile tone down their criticism of Egypt’s leader in an apparent attempt to appease Cairo.
This month, Turkish security forces briefly detained an exiled Egyptian dissident, according to human rights groups, as authorities in Egypt cracked down on activists during calls for protests at the COP27 climate summit.
But long-standing disagreements over the countries’ opposing roles in war-scarred Libya have impeded efforts to achieve a full rapprochement until now.
While diplomatic relations between Cairo and Ankara have often been thorny, economic ties have continued unabated. The volume of trade has nearly tripled from 2007 to 2020, according to the Carnegie Middle East Center.