ISTANBUL – Turkey wants to improve its economic relations with Egypt as it pushes to repair diplomatic ties between the regional powers, Trade Minister Mehmet Mus said on Monday, ahead of a visit by a Turkish delegation to Cairo this week.
Ties between Ankara and Cairo have been strained since 2013, when Egypt’s army toppled a Muslim Brotherhood president close to Turkey, in what Ankara said was a military coup.
“Parallel to the developing diplomatic relations with Egypt, we want to strengthen our trade and economic ties in the coming period,” Mus told an event to announce monthly trade figures in Ankara.
Despite the political frictions, Ankara says Cairo remains its biggest African trade partner, with the value of trade standing at $4.86 billion last year, only marginally down from 2012, the year before Turkey’s ally Mohamed Mursi was toppled.
Mus’s comments come as Ankara prepares to send a delegation led by deputy foreign minister Sedat Onal to Cairo this week to discuss normalizing relations between the two countries which backed opposing sides in the Libyan conflict.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said he would hold further talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, including on potentially appointing ambassadors, following the Turkish delegation’s visit to Cairo.
In March Turkey asked Egyptian opposition television channels operating on its territory to moderate criticism of Cairo. Egypt welcomed the move but has been publicly cautious about Turkish calls for better ties.