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Sharaf in accord with Qatari crown prince

Egypt's prime minister gains strong support from Qatar in a Gulf tour aimed to reassure as Cairo looks to improve relations with Tehran

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Apr 2011
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Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf met today with Qatari Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, during a tour of Gulf countries which has included Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Sharaf arrived in Doha, the capital of Qatar, yesterday with a delegation of Egyptian officials. During the visit, Sharaf discussed key regional and international issues with the Qatari prince and gave him a letter from Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, to be handed to his father Sheikh Hamed Bin Khalifa when he returns from his visit to Spain.

Yesterday, Sharaf held a press conference with Qatari counterpart Sheikh Hamd Bin Jassem Bin Gaber El-Thani. The duo discussed the importance of seeing the creation a Palestinian state as well as of expanding trade and investment between the two countries and keeping Egyptian workers in Qatar.

When asked about warming relations between Egypt and Iran and its effect on Gulf countries, Sharaf said that Egypt had deep historical ties with Gulf countries and that nothing could negatively affect this strong relationship. He added that Egypt does not have an embassy in Iran. Sheikh Jassam said that Qatar supports Egypt’s move to better its relations with Iran, including opening an embassy, and that Qatar — like most Arab countries — has an embassy in Tehran.

Sheikh Jassem added that Egypt creates balance in the region, and that when it becomes strong the whole region gains strength. The duo also discussed creating a roadmap to developing relations between the two countries, and decided to schedule a meeting in Cairo to discuss the issue further.

Sheikh Jassem announced that Qatar is looking to increase investment in Egypt, especially in the private sector, including joint projects. The duo also discussed cooperation in choosing a new secretary general for the Arab League after Amr Moussa steps down. Sheikh Jassem said Qatar does not disagree with Egypt on this issue.

When asked about post-revolutionary Egypt’s stand on what is happening in Libya, Yemen and Syria, Sharaf said that Egypt wants stability in these countries and called for dialogue in order to resolve their internal problems.

Responding to a question about the establishment of a Palestinian state, Sharaf said that he hopes for reconciliation between the Palestinian factions and the end of the siege on Gaza, suggesting that an international conference be convened to discuss how Palestine can gain more international recognition.

Sheikh Jassem affirmed that it is time for the United Nations to recognise Palestine, and that the 22 Arab states of the Arab League needed to play a role in achieving that recognition.

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