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Turkey hails new era with Egypt after tensions

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Turkey’s foreign minister hailed the start of a “new era” with Egypt as Ankara pushes ahead with normalizing relations with Cairo, Agence France-Presse reported, citing local media on Wednesday.

Turkey and Egypt broke off relations after the 2013 overthrow of ex-Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was supported by his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

That year Turkey and Egypt expelled each other’s ambassadors and froze their relations.

Turkish officials said last month Ankara had established the first diplomatic contacts with Cairo since 2013 as part of wider efforts to fix ties with other Middle Eastern rivals.

“A new era is beginning,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying by NTV.

He said there would be a meeting between the two countries’ deputy foreign ministers and diplomats but that a date had not yet been set.

Çavuşoğlu told Turkish reporters that the appointment of ambassadors would “come up on the agenda” during those talks.

When asked, the minister also indicated there would be meetings between himself and his Egyptian counterpart.

“Why not? There can be reciprocal visits and meetings, too,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Last month, members of Egypt’s İstanbul-based opposition media said Turkish officials had asked them to “tone down” criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The request appeared to be an attempt by Turkey to curry favor with Egypt in a bid to mend relations.

An Egyptian broadcaster known for his outspoken criticism of Cairo on an İstanbul-based channel said on Saturday he was going on “unlimited leave.”

Moataz Matar, 46, made the announcement during his popular daily show “With Moataz,” which he has presented for several years on the liberal El-Sharq channel.

Matar said he was not forced by Turkey or the channel to leave but added he did not want to “embarrass” anyone.

“I will come back when I am able to tell the truth on El-Sharq again as I always have,” he added.

After the Arab Spring, Istanbul became a capital of Arab media critical of their governments back home, especially for Egyptian media linked to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

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