Thousands of cheering Egyptians greeted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at about midnight in Cairo, where he arrived to establish a strategic partnership.
The crowd waved Egyptian, Libyan and Turkish flags, as well as those of the premier’s governing Justice and Development Party, while chanting, “Egypt-Turkey: one fist” and “brave Erdogan welcome to your second home.”
Turkey’s prime minister is visiting Egypt for the first time since the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. He had publicly called on Mubarak to step down in a televised speech broadcast at Tahrir Square, the revolution’s epicenter.
The premier’s hard line against Israel is also attracting supporters in Egypt, where tensions culminated in an attack on the Israeli embassy last week.
“Turkey-Egypt hand in hand, greetings to Egypt’s youth, to the Egyptian people,” Erdogan said while raising a joint fist with his counterpart, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.
Turkey’s prime minister will meet with religious, military and civilian leaders during his two-day stay, before moving on to Tunisia and Libya to meet with transitional leaders.
The Turkish and Egyptian prime ministers plan to sign an agreement today establishing a Turkish-Egyptian high-level strategic council, according to Erdogan’s schedule.
Erdogan said he won’t visit the Gaza Strip during his three-country tour, which had been a matter of speculation for the past week. He said a trip during his current tour is “out of the question,” although he is “longing to visit Gaza as soon as possible,” according to state-run Anatolia news agency.
The Turkish prime minister’s popularity in the Arab world surged as he has frayed relations with Israel by demandingg an apology for the killing of Turkish activists on a flotilla to Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip last year.