Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (right) meets his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Cairo on March 18, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

CAIRO:  Egypt’s foreign minister said talks with Turkey on the possibility of restoring ties to ambassadorial level would happen at “the appropriate time”, during the first visit to Cairo by Turkey’s top diplomat since ties ruptured a decade ago.

At a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would upgrade its diplomatic relations with Egypt to ambassador level “as soon as possible”.

“I’m very glad that we are taking concrete steps for normalising relations with Egypt... We will do our best not to rupture our ties again in future,” Cavusoglu said.

Shoukry said: “We will come to talks (on restoring ambassadors) at the appropriate time, depending on the positive results it brings”.

Ties between Turkey and Egypt were severely strained after Egypt’s then-army chief Abdul Fattah Al Sisi led the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Mursi, an ally of Ankara, in 2013.

Sisi was elected president the following year.

Last month, Shoukry visited Turkey in a show of solidarity after the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

The two countries have also been at odds in recent years over Libya, where they backed opposing factions in an unresolved conflict, and also over maritime borders in the gas-rich Eastern Mediterranean.

Consultations between senior foreign ministry officials in Ankara and Cairo began in 2021, amid a push by Turkey to ease tensions with Egypt, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As part of that tentative reconciliation, Ankara asked Egyptian opposition TV channels operating in Turkey to moderate their criticism of Egypt.

Mursi died in prison in Egypt in 2019. Other senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood are jailed in Egypt or have fled abroad, and the group remains outlawed.

Last month, Egypt’s government, which has been struggling to manage an acute shortage of foreign currency, said Turkish companies had committed to $500 million in new investments in Egypt.