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Egypt's foreign minister pays earthquake-ravaged Turkey rare visit

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Turkey in his country's first high-level diplomatic visit to the earthquake-ravaged nation after years of political discord.

Egypt’s foreign minister arrived in Turkey on Monday to show solidarity with the quake-hit country, in the first high-level visit from Egypt since relations between Ankara and Cairo started to improve after years of friction.

Sameh Shoukry traveled to the southern Turkish city of Mersin from Syria -- part of a two-legged trip seeking to convey Egypt’s solidarity with the earthquake-stricken populations.

Diplomatic relations between Ankara and Cairo have been frosty for almost a decade. Erdogan was a close ally of Egypt’s previous Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the military amid widespread protests in 2013.

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Turkey in recent years abandoned its critical approach to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s government, as it tried to repair the frayed ties. In November, Erdogan and el-Sissi were photographed shaking hands during the World Cup in Qatar.

Egypt's neighbor Libya remains a point of conflict between the two governments, with each backing rival administrations that divide the country’s east and west.

"What is important for us is to bring the relationships back to the old level and to take them very far in the interests of both countries in accordance with their common interest,″ Shoukry told reporters, during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The two stood in front of an Egyptian aid ship that docked at the port of Mersin. Cairo has sent numerous consignments of aid to Turkey since the earthquake struck on Feb. 6, killing tens of thousands — mostly in Turkey.

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"Friendship and brotherhood become apparent during times of difficulties and the Egyptian state and people have shown that they are the Turkish people's friends and brothers during these difficult times," Cavusoglu said.

The Turkish minister continued: "We are opening a new page in our relations. The development of ties between Turkey and Egypt is to both countries’ benefit."

The massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria has killed some 48,000 people in both countries and led to the collapse or serious damage of 173,000 buildings in Turkey.

On Monday, another earthquake shook southern Turkey, causing some already damaged buildings to collapse and killing at least one person.

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