Turkey and Egypt have taken the move to begin improving their ties as envoys of both countries commenced consultations in Cairo on Wednesday after an eight-year rift.

Relations between the regional powers have been tense since Egypt’s army toppled a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president close to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in 2013.

Both have clashed in Libya’s war, backing rival factions and in a dispute over east Mediterranean waters.

It worsened to an extent where the rival powers expelled ambassadors and Erdogan described Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as a tyrant.

But Instanbul and Cairo have decided to dec-escalate the tension and kicked off the first-ever consultations since 2013.

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The talks which started on Wednesday will continue till Thursday and will be led by Deputy Foreign ministers.

They will cover trade, energy cooperation and maritime jurisdiction in the east Mediterranean, a senior Turkish official said.

“These exploratory discussions will focus on the necessary steps that may lead towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries, bilaterally and in the regional context,” a joint statement said.

“Turkey and Egypt are the region’s powerful countries, and there are many areas where they can act together and cooperate,” said a senior Turkish official added.

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Turkey is seen making this move as part of plans to seek better relations with US-allied Arab nations after years of political rivalry and military interventions that many of the region perceived as showing off.

Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said last week that rapprochement could help end the war in Libya, where Turkish troops assisted the Tripoli-based government in repelling an attack from eastern forces backed by Egypt and Russia.

In the same vein, Erdogan had a phone conversation with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the second in less than a month.

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In a brief statement late on Tuesday, Turkey’s communications directorate said the two leaders “evaluated” matters on issues affecting both countries “and steps to be taken to further the cooperation”.

Recall that both countries have been at loggerheads since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi squad in Istanbul in 2018.

Last year, Saudi businessmen endorsed an unofficial boycott of Turkish goods in response to what they called hostility from Ankara, slashing the value of trade by 98 percent.

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