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Turkiye, Egypt delegations held meetings after leaders' handshake

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as they attend reception hosted by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar [Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as they attend reception hosted by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar [Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency]

After years of tension, a handshake between Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, and Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, last week opened the door to a flurry of back-door diplomacy between intelligence officials, two sources told Reuters.

Intelligence delegations from the two sides met in Egypt at the weekend, said a regional source with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters reports.

The second source, a senior Turkish official, said "significant" discussions had begun between them, and Turkiye and Egypt are set to begin talks on military, political and commercial issues including energy projects.

Turkish government officials did not comment when asked about the Egypt meeting. Egypt's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, separately told reporters on Monday that Ankara and Cairo may restore full diplomatic ties and re-appoint ambassadors "in coming months".

Diplomatic ties have been strained since Sisi, then Egypt's army chief, led the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was strongly supported by Erdogan.

But Erdogan and Sisi shook hands on the sidelines of the World Cup in Qatar last week in what Cairo described as a new start in bilateral relations.

READ: Egypt's Sisi courted Erdogan with mango juice amid reconciliation efforts

Separately, an Egyptian intelligence source said delegations in Cairo had discussed how to bring their points of view on common security issues closer. Those issues included Turkiye-based media outlets associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and opposed to Egypt's government, the source said.

Regional Outreach 

Erdogan said at the weekend that he and Sisi spoke in Qatar for as much as 45 minutes, and that the process of building relations with Egypt will start with ministers of the two countries meeting and that the talks would develop from there.

The senior Turkish official said the countries "may enter into serious cooperation on regional issues, especially in Africa".

They will begin addressing commercial, military and political issues "within a short time", he added, pointing to Turkiye's maritime agreement with Libya, energy projects, hydrocarbon exploration work and pipelines in the Mediterranean.

Ambassador appointments and contacts to bring Erdogan and Sisi together again will come "in the near future," with Turkiye's approach mirroring its recent effort to rekindle ties with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, he added.

The two countries started consultations between senior Foreign Ministry officials last year amid a push by Turkiye to ease tensions with Egypt, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As part of this, Ankara asked Egyptian opposition TV channels operating in Turkiye to moderate their criticism of Egypt, though Egyptian officials remained cautious on reconciliation.

Cairo has moved much more quickly to restore ties with Qatar following a regional diplomatic rift.

READ: Turkiye reconciliation with Egypt could lead to reconciliation with Syria, Erdogan says

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