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Turkish envoy to return to Egypt after recall

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey's ambassador to Egypt would return to Cairo, three weeks after he was recalled over the bloody crackdown on supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president.

"Do not forget that we recalled the ambassador for consultations," Erdogan told reporters at an Ankara airport before leaving for Saint Petersburg to attend the G20 conference.

"We did not close our embassy," he stressed, warning however that Ankara would review its stance depending on the "conditions in Egypt."

The police and military crackdown on August 14 on supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi sparked a storm of international condemnation and strained relations between Turkey and Egypt.

Erdogan, a supporter of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, condemned what he called the "massacre" of peaceful protesters in Egypt.

The two countries announced on August 15 they were recalling their respective ambassadors for consultations.

The tensions further escalated when both Ankara and Cairo cancelled planned joint naval exercises scheduled for October.

A foreign ministry diplomat told AFP earlier that Ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali was due to return to Cairo later Wednesday.

However, he stressed that the move should not be interpreted as a restoration of diplomatic ties which he said "have never been cut off."

"We recalled the ambassador for consultations and he will be sent back as the consultations are over," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Turkey's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had forged a close alliance with Morsi since he was elected in Egypt's first free election in June 2012.

The Islamist leader was invited to the AKP's annual congress last September, where Erdogan sought to position Turkey as a regional standard-bearer and a model for the successful marriage of Islam and democracy.

Erdogan had infuriated Cairo by calling Morsi's July 3 ouster a "coup."

Daily demonstrations in support of Morsi have since taken place in Turkey.

Ankara's repeated calls for Morsi's release and for free and fair elections irked Egypt's new rulers who accused the government of "clear interference" in their country's domestic affairs.

President Abdullah Gul had rejected the accusation and said Turkey's messages should be seen as a "friendly warning."

Meanwhile, a delegation from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will visit Egypt between September 9-12, lawmaker Faruk Logoglu said.

"Both Turkey and Egypt are the strategic countries in the region and a rupture in their relationship would benefit neither of them," Logoglu, a member of the CHP delegation, told AFP.

The CHP also condemned the "coup" in Egypt but the opposition delegation was to hold talks with the new rulers in a bid to repair bilateral relations between Ankara and Cairo, Logoglu said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130904/turkish-envoy-return-egypt-after-recall-1