CAIRO: Multilateral discussions between Egypt and Turkey in Cairo, described as “exploratory” and attended by Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Hamdi Sanad and his Turkish counterpart Loza Sedat Önal, concluded on Thursday.
A joint press release stated the discussions concerned straightforward bilateral cooperation and regional issues, especially regarding the situations in Libya, Syria and Iraq, and the necessity of ensuring safety and security in the Middle East.
“Both sides will evaluate the results of these discussions in order to move forward,” it said.
Egypt reportedly placed the Libyan issue at the top of the agenda of the talks, demanding the withdrawal of foreign and Turkish forces from its neighbor, according to sources.
Önal’s visit to Egypt is the first trip by a senior Turkish official since 2013, following the severing of diplomatic relations between Cairo and Ankara as a result of Turkey’s interference in Egypt’s internal affairs and its position on the June 30 protests against former President Mohammed Morsi.
Sources have also revealed a preliminary agreement between the two sides to hold a close meeting between their respective foreign ministers. Turkey has also offered to receive an Egyptian delegation to conclude the discussions, calling for the restoration of full political, diplomatic and economic relations.
However, Cairo has continued to demand Turkey hand over Muslim Brotherhood members Alaa Al-Samahi and Yahya Moussa, and refused to recognize them as “political refugees” rather than terrorists.
Ezzat Saad, director of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said in a press release that if the Turkish side was ready to assume its responsibilities and showed its commitment to reaching solutions regarding the disputes between the two countries, then Egypt would not have any problem in resolving any issue.
Saad said he expects the Eastern Mediterranean issue — Turkey’s exploration operations in a disputed area — and the situation in Libya would be among the issues the two sides would continue to explore, noting that these talks will also discuss Egypt’s refusal to provide Turkey with a “safe haven” for members of the Muslim Brotherhood, as “the Turkish side must understand that this matter represents a threat to Egyptian national security.”
Saad added Turkey has certain obligations, which it is well aware of, among which is not to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs and to show seriousness, commitment and goodwill to maintain bilateral ties.