ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's ambassador to Egypt, pulled back amid deteriorating relations between the two countries, will return to Cairo but Egypt said its top diplomat would not go back to Ankara until Egypt feels that Turkey has stopped interfering in its internal affairs.
Turkey and Egypt recalled their ambassadors last month after Turkey sharply criticized Egypt's new leaders over the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi. Turkey's Islamic-rooted ruling party had strongly backed Morsi – a leading figure in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood – as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected, pro-Islamic leader. It has criticized his July 3 ouster by Egypt's military, while also criticizing the West for what it has deemed a weak response to the apparent coup.
Egypt, for its part, has accused Turkey of meddling.
"We have completed our consultations and are sending back our ambassador," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.
Asked whether the decision amounted to a "normalization" of ties, Erdogan responded by saying Turkey would "reconsider" Ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali's position if "conditions in Egypt take a different turn."
In Egypt, Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Attie said the Egyptian ambassador would not return until Turkey's government ceased meddling in Egyptian affairs.
"The decision to withdraw the Turkish ambassador was a Turkish decision, just like his return is their business. The Egyptian position remains as it is," Abdel-Attie said, adding that could change later.
Turkish ambassador was expected to arrive in Cairo early Thursday, an Egyptian airport official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
In his first wide-ranging interview since being named Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour criticized Turkey's leaders late Tuesday on Egyptian state television. He said Turkey should focus on "Egypt and its people and not with leaders of a certain group."
Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Cairo contributed to the report.