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Turkey vows to mend strained ties with Egypt, Gulf states

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey has planned to maximise its cooperation with Egypt and Gulf nations “on a win-win basis”, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, as Ankara works to repair its strained ties with Cairo, Saudi Arabia and some Gulf Arab nations after years of tensions.

Ankara’s ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been strained over several issues, from opposing positions on political Islam, the Libyan conflict and the eastern Mediterranean to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

“We desire to use these opportunities for cooperation at the maximum level and improve our ties on a win-win basis … the same situation is valid for all Gulf countries too,” Erdogan told broadcaster TRT Haber on Tuesday.

“We have serious potential for cooperation with Egypt in a wide spectrum of areas from the eastern Mediterranean to Libya,” he said, adding he “loved” the Egyptian people.

“Therefore, we are determined to restart this process.”

As part of the efforts, a Turkish delegation held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo last month in the first direct contact between the regional rivals in years, after they fell out following the Egyptian army’s toppling of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president close to Erdogan in 2013.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart. Ankara has also toned down its criticism of the Khashoggi killing amid an informal Saudi boycott of Turkish exports.

After last month’s talk with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Cavusoglu said the two countries would continue to talk to each other.