Egypt and Turkey are holding talks on bilateral and regional issues to push for the reconstruction of their fractured relations.

Egypt and Turkey said they had held “French” talks during the first official diplomatic talks between regional rivals for eight years, according to a joint statement.

“The discussions were frank and deep,” the statement issued by Cairo and Ankara said on Thursday.

“They addressed bilateral issues as well as various regional issues, in particular the situation in Libya, Syria, Iraq and the need to achieve peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” he added.

A Turkish delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, met Wednesday and Thursday in Cairo with an Egyptian team led by its counterpart, Hamdi Loza.

Ankara and Cairo have faced pressure from the United States since the departure of their ally, former President Donald Trump, and both have extended olive branches to their neighbors.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been fighting since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, personally supported by Erdogan.

Ankara and Cairo have faced pressure from the United States since the departure of their ally, former President Donald Trump [Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Erdogan said on March 12 that the two countries have maintained “intelligence, diplomatic and economic” contacts, adding that he expected “strong” ties between the two nations.

One week after Erdogan’s statements, his government called on three Istanbul-based Egyptian television channels linked to the Muslim Brotherhood to soften its critical political coverage of the Egyptian government. Television channels immediately stopped broadcasting some political programs.

Egypt welcomed the measure, calling it “a good initiative by the Turkish side that establishes a favorable environment to discuss issues of dispute between the two nations.”

The two countries have also been on opposite sides of the oil-rich conflict in Libya, which fell into chaos following the NATO uprising that toppled ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

According to two Egyptian intelligence sources, Turkey is ready to hold a tripartite meeting between Turkish, Egyptian and Libyan officials to agree on disputed issues in Libya, including the presence of foreign fighters.

Turkey said on Thursday it agrees that all foreign mercenaries in Libya need to leave the country, but Ankara has a bilateral agreement with the Libyan government for its troops to be stationed there.

The Turkish delegation also told the Egyptians that Ankara could not hand over the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood wanted by Egypt, adding that most of these leaders had already legalized their residence in Turkey, according to sources.

Turkish officials did not comment on the content of the talks. However, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Ankara is fully open to improving its ties with all countries in the region, not just Egypt.


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