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Libya, economy likely to top Egypt's visit to Italy, France: Experts

Future arrangements in Libya and encouraging investment and trade in Egypt will top European agenda, say former diplomats

Ahram Online, Monday 24 Nov 2014
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, left, welcomes Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, at Villa Madama in Rome (Photo: AP)
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Views: 1761
Developments in Egypt's western neighbour Libya and economic relations are likely to top the agenda of a visit by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Italy and France this week, say former diplomats.
What is going on in Libya is possibly the most important issue Egypt will tackle in its visit, said former Egyptian envoy to Libya Hany Khallaf.
"Since Italy is the European country most directly involved in Libyan affairs, Egypt is very likely to discuss future political arrangements in its visit, as the precarious security situation in its western neighbor greatly worries it."
After the ouster of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, political instability in the country has resulted in a fight for power, as an internationally recognised government in the country's east which Egypt backs is fighting Islamist-backed factions which took over the capital earlier this year.
Egypt is training Libyan army personnel, a step which Italy has taken before. El-Sisi on Thursday called for more assistance to the Libyan army by western powers.
But Khallaf also believes other issues will be of importance in the visit.
It is possible the issue of the controversial Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam will be on the agenda, as Italy – being the former coloniser of Ethiopia – may have close contact with Ethiopian decision makers, prompting Egypt to seek their support in allaying some of its fears regarding the dam's impact on its share of Nile water, he said.
Khallaf also pointed to Egypt's upcoming economic summit expected in March, saying Egypt wants a strong Italian and French presence in the conference, as investments from both countries are important to the country.
Egypt hopes to attract up to $12 billion for its ailing economy.
Indeed, the Egyptian presidency stated El-Sisi has scheduled a meeting with French businessmen and tourist company representatives in an effort to reinvigorate investment, industry and tourism, all of which were hard-hit by the economic slowdown following the country's 2011 uprising and the political instability that followed.
The president will also attend a meeting by the Italian-Egyptian Business Council during his visit.
Italy is Egypt's top European trade partner and fourth world wide. Italy and France are among Egypt's main trade partners, whose net trade with Egypt exceeds $9 billion.
Speaking to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website, former Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed El-Orabi said the visit is significant as Europe is Egypt's main international partner in trade due to its proximity.
El-Orabi said Italy and France are El-Sisi's first choices as they enjoy a warmer relationship with Egypt compared to others like Germany, precisely due to greater economic.
Strengthening these ties and fighting terrorism were the main objectives behind the visit, Orabi told Al-Ahram.
The visit is El-Sisi's first to Europe and is planned to last four days.
Egypt's presidency said fighting terrorism and the need to align the efforts of the international community against it will top the agenda of the trip.
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25-11-2014 08:08am
It is crystal clear by now.
That President Sisi so far, has done more to lift Egypt then all of his predecessors combined, all the way back to the Ottoman Mohamed Ali. All this, while the defeated brotherhood still takes meaningless attempts to defeat, and undermine the Egyptian people. Cleaning out the Sinai and Libya, while working with the Libyans to restore the Eastern border, will be the final blow to the crippled terrorists.
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