El Sisi and Erdogan meet on sidelines of G20 summit in New Delhi

This meeting between the Turkish and Egyptian presidents was their second in less than a year

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) shaking hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in New Delhi on Sunday. EPA
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi, the second meeting between the two leaders in 10 months.

A meeting in November last year was the first between the two leaders since Mr El Sisi led the military to remove Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, who was backed by Ankara, in July 2013.

The removal of Mr Morsi amid street protests against his one-year rule led to years of tension between the two regional powers.

The two countries withdrew their ambassadors soon after, with Cairo accusing Ankara of supporting militant Islamist groups in the region and interfering in the domestic affairs of Arab nations.

Trade between the two countries, however, never reflected the tension, and grew at a steady pace. It stood at about $10 billion last year.

The two nations have backed rival sides in the conflict in Libya, Egypt's neighbour to the West, which has been torn by more than 10 years of civil strife.

Sunday's meeting in New Delhi was reported by the offices of the two leaders.

A presidential statement in Cairo said the two leaders had discussed ways to push forward relations between their two nations by “building on the tangible progress made in order to restart all the mechanisms of bilateral relations”.

Alluding to some of the pending issues between the two nations, the statement said both leaders wished to “bolster regional co-operation as a constant strategic policy within a framework of mutual respect, interests and sincere intentions to safeguard peace and stability in the east Mediterranean region”.

Egyptian officials familiar with details of Egyptian-Turkish relations said unresolved issues remained as stumbling blocks for Ankara and Cairo to fully normalise their ties.

One of these is what Cairo sees as Turkey's actions in neighbouring Libya, where Ankara is perceived to be reinforcing its military and economic ties with the Tripoli-based government that's often at odds with Cairo, which supports a rival administration in the east.

Cairo, according to the officials, was particularly concerned about recent deals between Ankara and the Tripoli government, giving Turkey rights to explore for oil and gas in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast.

Egypt and Libya disagree over their maritime borders.

Egypt also remains opposed to what it views as Turkey's meddling in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and its attempts to muscle in on plans by Cairo and its allies – mainly Cyprus and Greece – to turn the East Mediterranean, where vast natural gas reserves have been found, into a regional energy hub.

Mr Erdogan's office said the two leaders on Sunday discussed bilateral ties and energy co-operation, but gave no details. It said the Turkish leader had expressed interest in co-operation with Egypt in the fields of liquefied gas and nuclear energy.

Updated: September 10, 2023, 12:51 PM