Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry will travel to Damascus on Monday in the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011, according to a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Shoukry will visit Turkey and Syria – both hit hard by a deadly earthquake on Feb. 6 – to “convey a message of solidarity from Egypt with the two countries” according to the foreign ministry statement. Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed the visit, saying Shoukry will hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and visit the southern province of Adana and the port of Mersin, where an Egyptian aid ship is set to arrive.
Syria had been isolated by regional states over President Bashar al-Assad’s deadly crackdown of protests against him, with the Arab League suspending Syria’s membership in 2011 and many Arab countries pulling their envoys out of Damascus. But Assad has benefited from an outpouring of support from Arab states following the quake, which killed more than 5,900 people across his country, according to a tally of U.N. and Syrian government figures.
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi spoke with Assad by phone for the first time on Feb. 7 and on Sunday, a delegation of top parliamentarians from around the region – including Egypt’s parliament speaker – met Assad in Damascus. Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Turkey were also severed after Sisi, then army chief, led the 2013 overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi, a close ally of Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan.
Relations began thawing in 2021, part of a push by Turkey to ease tensions with several regional powers. Erdogan and Sisi met and shook hands during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Turkish companies earlier this month committed to $500 million in new investments in Egypt.
Shoukry met his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in 2021 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and Cairo has sent several shipments of earthquake aid to Syria in recent weeks.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)