(Bloomberg) --

Turkey and Egypt edged closer to restoring full ties in the wake of a landmark handshake between leaders Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

A photograph of the two presidents’ encounter in Doha, billed as their first-ever meeting, was shared by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency on Sunday. Statements from both sides later suggested it could be the prelude to broader talks.

Egypt and Turkey have had frosty relations for much of the past decade after a 2013 military-backed uprising in the North African nation ousted an Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, who’d been favored by Ankara. The two Middle Eastern powers were also on opposite sides of a conflict in Libya that ended with an uneasy 2020 cease-fire.

There have been sporadic talks and efforts to improve relations amid a broader push to bridge divides in the region as the US draws back.

Turkey was Egypt’s sixth-biggest trade partner in 2021, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Two-way commerce grew to $5.3 billion from $4.7 billion a year earlier. 

“Mutual emphasis was placed on the depth of the historical ties linking the two countries and the Egyptian and Turkish peoples,” a spokesman for the Egyptian presidency said Monday in a statement. “It was also agreed that this would be the beginning of developing bilateral relations between the two sides.”

Erdogan on Monday said Turkey wants “to take the dialog to a better point with high-level conversations,” according to remarks reported by the Anadolu Agency. “Our expectation from them is to establish peace against those being hostile to us in the Mediterranean Sea,” he said, without elaborating.

--With assistance from Abdel Latif Wahba.

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