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Egypt and Turkey hold ‘frank’ talks, first since 2013

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

“The discussions were frank and in-depth,” the statement released by Cairo and Ankara said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“They 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,” it added.

A Turkish delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, met on Wednesday and Thursday with an Egyptian team led by his counterpart Hamdi Loza.

Ankara and Cairo have both faced US pressure since the departure of their ally, former president Donald Trump, and both have been extending olive branches to their neighbors.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been sparring since the military’s 2013 ouster in Cairo of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, personally backed by Erdoğan.

In order to appease Cairo, Erdoğan’s advisers in March demanded that popular Egyptian exiled talk show hosts sympathetic to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood tone down criticism of Sisi.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry noted in March that “words are not enough, they must be matched by deeds.”

Turkey and Egypt have also been on opposite sides of the conflict in oil-rich Libya, which descended into chaos in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

But since the selection this year of a new interim Libyan prime minister in a UN-sponsored process, Cairo and Ankara have appeared more open to a political solution to that conflict.

“The two sides will evaluate the outcome of this round of consultations and agree on the next steps,” the statement added.

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