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Egypt’s top diplomat pays ‘solidarity’ visit to Turkey after earthquakes

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Monday paid a visit to Turkey in a show of solidarity after devastating earthquakes that claimed tens of thousands of lives in Turkey and neighboring Syria, Agence France-Presse reported.

The visit to Mersin — a port city in southern Turkey — was the first in a decade of strained ties between Ankara and Cairo after the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

“Our visit [to Turkey] is a message of friendship and solidarity,” Shoukry told journalists alongside his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, behind an aid ship docked at Mersin’s port.

“We, as the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people, wholeheartedly believe that Turkey will overcome this as soon as possible. It is a great disaster,” he said in remarks translated from Arabic.

“We will continue to do our best to help,” he said.

The Feb. 6 earthquakes killed over 44,000 people in Turkey and thousands more in neighboring Syria.

Cairo’s relations with Ankara have been frosty since a 2013 coup that propelled Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power, deposing Morsi — with whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan forged close ties.

In November, Sisi and Erdoğan shook hands in Qatar in what the Egyptian presidency heralded as a new beginning in their ties.

“We are opening new pages in our relations with Egypt,” Çavuşoğlu said, welcoming the visit as “extremely important and meaningful.”

“We discussed what steps we would take to improve relations. The development of relations between Turkey and Egypt is in the interest of both parties. It is also extremely important for the peace, development and stability of our region,” he said.

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