Turkey Resumes Egypt Ties as It Seeks Reboot With Arab World

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Turkey said it had resumed diplomatic contacts with Egypt, in a sign it’s making progress in rebooting relations with some Arab nations strained for years over Islamist politics and regional conflicts.

The talks are at the “intelligence and foreign ministry levels,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

Cavusoglu said that while neither side had set preconditions, “it’s not that easy to move on as if nothing has happened after years of broken ties.” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said shortly after that contacts could move to a higher level if they produced results.

Egypt downplayed the progress saying it doesn’t yet amount to a resumption of diplomatic contacts.

“Upgrading” bilateral ties will require respecting the principle of sovereignty and the needs of Arab national security as well as ending interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, Egypt’s state news agency MENA quoted an unidentified official source as saying.

Ulker Biskuvi Sanayi AS, a Turkish food company that does business in Egypt, rose as much as 2.2% in Istanbul trading. Discount grocery chain BIM Birlesik Magazalar AS, which also has operations in Egypt, climbed as much as 1.3%.

Mursi Ouster

Turkey has been a supporter of Islamist political movements under Erdogan, but in places like the Arab Gulf the groups are seen as a threat to dynastic rule.

Relations between Ankara and Cairo soured after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi toppled the country’s Islamist leader, Mohamed Mursi, in 2013. Since then Egypt and Turkey have also clashed over the conflicts in Libya, where they backed opposing sides, and Iraq.

Signaling a thaw, however, Cavusoglu earlier this month praised the nature of Egypt’s search for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean, saying it respected Turkey’s exclusive zone. The two countries could agree on a boundary marking their respective claims in the waters, he said.

On Friday, the minister said relations with other Arab states could also improve, but only if each side was determined to make progress.

“There is no reason to not fix ties with Saudi Arabia. If they take a positive step, so would we,” Cavusoglu said, according to Anadolu. “The same thing applies to the United Arab Emirates as well.”

Turkish energy exploration in disputed Mediterranean waters has sparked confrontations with Greece, Cyprus and their European Union partners, and Erdogan on Friday criticized Saudi Arabia for holding military exercises with Greek forces reportedly set for this month.

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