Erdogan's party extends new olive branch to Egypt
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party on Tuesday proposed establishing a parliamentary friendship group with Egypt, extending a new olive branch in Ankara's efforts to normalise ties with Cairo.
Turkey's relations with Egypt froze following the 2013 overthrow of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi, whom Erdogan had personally backed.
The two countries expelled each others' ambassadors and subsequently backed opposing sides in the conflict in Libya.
But Libya has taken its first steps in a post-war transition, and Turkey has spent the past few months mending fences with regional rivals, saying it has had its first diplomatic contacts with Egypt since 2013 last month.
"Today we will present a motion to the parliament speaker's office to establish a friendship group between the Turkish republic and Egypt," said Bulent Turan, the parliamentary leader of Erdogan's AKP party, the Anadolu state news agency reported.
Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu heralded a "new era" in relations with Egypt, announcing a diplomatic delegation visit to Cairo next month.
In an interview with Turkish broadcaster HaberTurk late Tuesday, Cavusoglu repeated that Ankara was willing to sign a deal with Egypt over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.
"If we can agree, we will sign (a deal). Egypt would also come out profitably from this," he said.
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He also addressed the two countries' past differences over Libya where Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
"In the past, we remained on opposing sides. This is a truth ... but now there's a new government in Libya which will carry the country to elections," he said.
"We don't see Libya as an area of competition with Egypt or with any other country."
In another indication of Turkey's diplomatic push, members of Egypt's Istanbul-based opposition media revealed that Turkish officials had asked them to tone down criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Cavusoglu on Tuesday admitted "necessary warnings" had been issued to Egyptian opposition before the normalisation period.
After the Arab Spring, Istanbul became a capital of Arab media critical of their governments back home, especially for Egyptian media linked to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
Moataz Matar, one of the most famous Istanbul-based media critics of Morsi, announced that he was going on "unlimited leave" earlier this month.
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