Turkey, Egypt Agree To Further Talks In Bid To Ease Tensions

ISTANBUL (AP) — East Mediterranean rivals Turkey and Egypt have agreed to continue talks aimed at stabilizing relations after the end of a second round of negotiations, the two governments said Wednesday.

A joint statement said that after a two-day meeting in Ankara it was agreed to extend talks, “confirming (the mutual) desire to make progress in areas under discussion and the need for further steps to facilitate normalization" of bilateral relations.

The discussions — led by deputy foreign ministers Sedat Onal of Turkey and Egypt’s Hamdi Samad Loza — followed a first round in Cairo in May. Those Cairo talks were the first high-level contacts since 2013.

They came as Ankara sought to ease tensions with Egypt and other Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Turkey fell out with Egypt following the removal of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by the military in 2013. Wider disputes with Egypt, the Saudis and the UAE included the conflict in Libya, where they backed opposing sides, and Ankara’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.

Although the talks with Egypt have yielded little concrete, they have focused on Libya, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the eastern Mediterranean.