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FM Davutoglu in Cairo to strengthen Turkey-Egypt ties and prepare for Erdogan visit

Turkey's Foreign Minister visits Cairo, answering questions on Syria, Libya, NATO, and lays groundwork for PM Erdogan's upcoming visit to form an Egypt-Turkey council

Ahmed Eleiba , Monday 4 Jul 2011
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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stopped over in Egypt for a few hours to meet with Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Foreign Minister Mohamed El-Arabi as soon as he took office. The main aim of Davutoglu’s visit was to prepare for the upcoming 21 July visit to Cairo by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where a Turkey-Egypt strategic cooperation council is expected to be launched.

Besides emphasising cultural and historic ties between the Egypt and Turkey, El-Arabi told Ahram Online that trade relations between the two countries stand at more than LE10.5 billion and, therefore, require stronger bonds.

El-Arabi explained that the priorities of the joint council will be cooperation in four main sectors, including education and health. He added that Egypt’s foreign policy has prioritised relations with Turkey, as it does in the present and will do in the future, noting that both countries are models of moderate and stable states in the region, and therefore it is important that such joint cooperation should be established between them.

Davutoglu stated the importance of continued strategic dialogue with Egypt, as well as strategic cooperation.

Responding to a question by Ahram Online on the conditions in Libya, where it appears that Ankara agrees with NATO’s military mission there but disagrees on the strategy in Libya, Davutoglu said Turkey is a member of NATO and, therefore, does not disagree with operations in Libya, as long as they are based on UN Resolution 1979 and protecting civilians. He added, however, “we might differ on action, and there were many concerns.”

“It is impossible that we accept any violations or excesses,” Davutoglu said. “We played a role in humanitarian and medical operations, as well as transporting the wounded. We will also play a role in a peaceful resolution during my visit to Benghazi.”

Commenting on the situation in Syria, Davutoglu stated that there will be no NATO military action there as there has been in Libya. Turkey “supports transformation in brotherly nations but we do not support violence and loss of life,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are many such developments in Syria. Hence, we support peaceful transition and the will of the people, but we must also support national dialogue. What is taking place in Syria affects Turkey, as did what occurred in Iraq over the past decades.”

Davutoglu was on his fourth visit to Egypt in the past six months, and is the first official to meet with Egypt’s new foreign minister. Erdogan’s visit to Egypt will be his first since the Turkish Justice and Development Party won the elections a few weeks ago.

During a joint news conference with Davutoglu at the foreign ministry, El-Arabi commented on the decision by the Muslim Brotherhood not to hold a dialogue with the US, except through the foreign ministry by saying: “The Egyptian Foreign Ministry represents Egypt and the Egyptian government.”

Davutoglu also asserted that Israel’s attempt to use violence against Freedom Flotilla 2 is illegal. “We cannot stop this; we have no comment,” he stated.

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