Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has called for stepped-up trade relations with Turkey, going on to hint that he may eventually pay a visit to Ankara.
In an interview aired Sunday evening on private Egyptian broadcaster ON TV, Shoukry voiced hope that bilateral relations might reach a level that "serves the interests of the peoples of both countries."
"We are keen to maintain certain trade relationships because they benefit Egypt in terms of both attracting investment and creating employment," Shoukry said in the interview.
"These relationships should be encouraged as long as they pose no threat to Egypt's national security," he added.
Turkey's political relations with Egypt have remained rocky since mid-2013, when Mohammed Morsi — Egypt's first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader — was ousted in a bloody military coup. Shoukry also stressed Cairo's readiness to normalize its political relations with Turkey on condition that Ankara was prepared to reciprocate. "In terms of political relations [with Turkey], Egypt has always stressed its willingness to take steps in this direction," he said. "But this decision must ultimately come from the Turkish government."
Egypt's top diplomat also welcomed what he described as "a recent reduction in the amount of criticism" leveled at Egypt's post-coup regime by the Turkish government. "This is a good sign that suggests relations will gradually return to normal," he asserted. "We are ready to maintain relations with all countries based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in the domestic affairs of others," he said.
When asked about the possibility of his visiting Ankara or the possibility of a reciprocal visit to Egypt by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Shoukry said, "This is possible, of course. We appreciate and respect the Turkish people."
"We cherish the strong relations we once enjoyed with Turkey," he added.
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