Two days of high-level talks aimed at normalizing relations between Turkey and Egypt have ended without a breakthrough, but were praised by the regional heavyweights in a joint statement as “frank and in-depth.”
The talks in Cairo “addressed bilateral issues as well as a number of regional issues, in particular the situation in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the need to achieve peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” the two countries said in a statement.
Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdi Loza and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal led the talks, which mark the first such meeting between senior diplomats from the two countries since 2013.
“The two sides will evaluate the outcome of this round of consultations and agree on the next steps,” the statement said.
Relations between Cairo and Ankara soured after the Egyptian military in 2013 overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi. The two countries recalled each other’s ambassadors and downgraded diplomatic relations.
Morsi was a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that is backed by Turkey’s Islamist ruling party but considered a terrorist organization by Egypt’s current government.
Morsi’s successor, military general-turned president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has cracked down on the outlawed group’s supporters. Hundreds of Brotherhood members in Egypt have been handed death sentences, and most of the group’s leadership is imprisoned or in exile. Many Brotherhood figures sought refuge in Turkey, and Cairo has pressed Ankara to hand them over.
Libya’s civil war, where Turkey and Egypt back opposing sides, was high on the agenda during the Cairo talks. Two Egyptian intelligence sources told Reuters that Turkey is prepared to hold a meeting of Turkish, Egyptian and Libyan officials to address the presence of foreign fighters and other contentious issues in the war-wracked country.