Egypt and Turkey are "one hand," Erdogan says on Cairo visit

Egypt and Turkey are "one hand," Erdogan says on Cairo visit

Egypt and Turkey will be the "bright faces of the region," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, during a visit aimed at strengthening ties with Egypt through increasing investments and political cooperation between Ankara and Cairo, DPA reported.

"I think that the two nations will be the bright faces of the region," Erdogan said after his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Essam Sharaf.

The Turkish premier's three-day visit to Cairo is part of an "Arab Spring" tour that will also take him to Libya and Tunisia.

Erdogan received a warm welcome at Cairo airport when he arrived late Monday. A large crowd greeted him outside the Cairo Opera House, where he gave a speech Tuesday evening.

"Egypt and Turkey are one hand," Erdogan told his audience, in one of the few sentences he spoke in Arabic.

He is currently seen as a hero by many Egyptians after cutting diplomatic relations and freezing military and trade ties with Israel the previous week, over the 2010 killing of nine Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid ship.

During a 30-minute speech at the Arab League, he was interrupted several times by the applause from foreign ministers.

Addressing the ministers at the organization's headquarters in Cairo, Erdogan called on Arab states to carry out reforms that would bring about justice and democracy in the region.

"Without delay, political and social reforms should be carried out to meet people's legitimate demands to fulfill justice, security and democracy," he said.

"We should be resilient at this moment where history is being written," he added.

As he left the building, Erdogan stopped and shook hands with people from the cheering crowd who carried posters with his photograph.

Erdogan addressed the Arab League meeting after his meeting with Egypt's military ruler and defence minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, during which they discussed political and economic cooperation.

Later Tuesday the Egyptian and Turkish premiers signed an agreement to increase trade from the current 3 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars. Turkey will also work towards increasing its investments in Egypt from 1.5 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars.

The two countries also signed several agreements related to electricity, natural resources, oil, tourism, education, media, culture and sports, the Egyptian cabinet announced.

Erdogan also met the grand imam of the Al-Azhar institution, Ahmed al-Tayeb, to discuss the current developments in the Arab world, and the future of the cooperation between Turkey and Al-Azhar, which is the largest Sunni institution and university in the Muslim world.

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