Erdogan (right) being welcomed by his Al Sissi as he arrives at Cairo International Airport during his official visit to Egypt. Image Credit: AFP

CAIRO: Erdogan said that Turkey was ready for cooperation with Egypt to rebuild Gaza as he made his first visit to the country since 2012, vowing to boost trade with Egypt to $15 billion in the short term.

In a joint news conference after talks with President Abdul Fattah Al Sisi in Cairo, Erdogan said the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza topped the agenda of their talks, adding that the two countries were evaluating energy and defence cooperation.

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The visit marked a major step toward rebuilding relations between the regional powers, whose relations frayed over Egypt’s 2013 military coup and its fallout for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey has long been a backer of the pan-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, which has been outlawed as a terrorist organisation in Egypt.

Erdogan and Al Sisi review a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at Al Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. Image Credit: Reuters

Erdogan met with President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi at Cairo’s Ittihadiya palace, according to Egypt’s state-run media.

Al Sissi said tha t he accepted the invitation to visit Turkey in April.

The Egyptian presidency said they talks would focus on bilateral relations and regional challenges, especially efforts to stop the war in Gaza.

Erdogan and Al Sissi, accompanied by their wives Emine Erdogan and Entissar Amer, meet at Al Ittihadiya Palace. Image Credit: Reuters

Erdogan’s visit to Cairo is his first in over a decade. Egypt and Turkey fell out after the Egyptian military in 2013 ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, amid mass protest against his divisive one year of rule.

Ankara abandoned its criticism of Al Sissi’s government over the past years as it tried to repair frayed ties with Egypt and other Arab countries. In November 2022, Erdogan and Al Sissi were photographed shaking hands during the World Cup in Qatar.

The war in Gaza has reached a critical point, with an impeding Israeli offensive on the city of Rafah, along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, where some 1.4 million people — over half the territory’s population — are crammed into tent camps and overflowing apartments and shelters.

Egypt is concerned that a ground assault on Rafah would push hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians across the border and into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. It has threatened to suspend the country’s decades-old peace treaty with Israel.

Egypt, together with Qatar and the United States, a key Israel ally, has been working to try and broker a ceasefire and the return of the remaining 130 hostages held by Hamas, around a fourth of whom are believed to be dead. The negotiators held talks in Cairo on Tuesday but there were no signs of a breakthrough.