Turkey eyes better ties with Egypt, Syria in future: PM

September 2, 2016 6:19 AM EDT

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (C), flanked by Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (front L), Defense Minister Fikri Isik (rear R) and the country's top generals, leaves Anitkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, af

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey, which patched up strained ties with Israel and Russia, aims to normalize relations with Egypt and even rebuild ties in future with Syria, where it has launched a cross-border offensive, the prime minister said on Friday.

"God willing, there will be normalization with Egypt and Syria," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a televised briefing with ministers. "Turkey has started a serious attempt to normalize ties with Egypt and Syria."

He did not give a timeline for restoring ties with either of the Arab nations. Any improvement would mark a further shift in its regional foreign policy that has shown of signs of increasing pragmatism, analysts say.

Turkey has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to quit as part of a political solution in its conflict-torn neighbor, but has recently been less vocal about the need for him to leave immediately, concerned more by the prospect of Syria's division and the potential creation of a Kurdish enclave on its border.

Ties with Egypt have been strained since the Egyptian army, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ousted the elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi following mass protests. Turkey built close ties with Egypt's first Islamist president.

Turkey's decision to rebuild Israeli ties, strained over the Palestinian issue, and Russian relations, broken over Turkey's shooting down of a Russian warplane over Syria, signaled a more pragmatic approach in Turkish foreign policy, analysts say.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

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