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Turkey says could negotiate with Egypt over east Med

Turkish Foreign Affairs minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks during a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart in Ankara on March 3, 2021. Adem ALTAN / AFP

Turkey is willing to negotiate with Egypt and sign a deal over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish foreign minister said on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Any talks between the sides would be momentous since their ties deteriorated after 2013, when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led a military overthrow of ex-Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, whom Turkey backed.

The two nations are also on opposing sides in the Libyan conflict.

“Depending on the trajectory of relations, we could negotiate maritime boundaries with Egypt and reach an agreement in the future,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a press conference in Ankara.

The eastern Mediterranean was at the center of escalating tensions last year between Turkey and Greece, after Ankara sent a research vessel into disputed waters.

The move came after Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories agreed to create the “East Mediterranean Gas Forum” without Turkey in 2019.

Egypt then signed a maritime agreement with Greece that laid claim to some areas covered in a separate pact Turkey struck with Libya around the same time.

Greece is likely to be wary of any maritime talks between Turkey and Egypt.

EU attempts to defuse the eastern Mediterranean standoff culminated in January, when Turkey and Greece held their first direct talks since 2016.

But tensions renewed last month after Turkey sent a research ship into international waters and accused Greek jets of “harassing” the vessel.

The January meeting in İstanbul produced no breakthrough and although the sides agreed for the talks to resume in Athens, no date has yet been set.

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