A British government delegation visited Cairo on 18 and 19 November to hold discussions with Egyptian authorities about a joint plan that would allow for the return of British flights to Sharm El Sheikh, a statement from the UK Embassy in Cairo read.
The high level delegation came upon instructions from British Prime Minister David Cameron and was headed by the PM’s envoy on aviation security Sir William Patey, as well as aviation and counter-terrorism experts.
The delegation held discussions with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, national security adviser to the president Fayza Abo El-Naga, and the president’s adviser on security Ahmed Gamal El Din, and El Zanaty, head of the Civil Aviation Authority.
The delegation conveyed a political message from Cameron stating that the UK will work “actively, urgently, and in detail,” with Egyptian officials to allow for the return of normal flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh as soon as possible.
On 4 November, Britain suspended -- a precautionary move -- all flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh because of concerns that the Russian plane that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai may have been downed by a bomb.
The delegation welcomed the “close and professional cooperation” with Egypt in the past two weeks to prioritise the safety of the passengers departing from Sharm El-Sheikh.
“The delegation stressed that Britain will never falter in its commitment to work with the Egyptian government to defeat shared enemies and threats to our citizens in Europe, North Africa and beyond,” the statement read.
The delegation also asserted the strategic importance to British interests of a powerful and secure Egyptian economy, adding that it was necessary to halt “terrorist attempts” to undermine it.
“Britain was the first to act on airport security issues at Sharm El Sheikh, and we want to be the first to find the solutions to restore normal flights as soon as possible. That’s why Britain’s most senior aviation security experts are here in Cairo this week, Britain’s ambassador in Cairo John Casson stated.
“Our talks have shown very encouraging progress, with shared analysis, shared commitment to swift progress, and shared ideas on the way forward. We now have a strong basis to agree on a shared action plan in the days ahead, and to return British flights as soon as possible.”
Casson also added that “Recent events have shown that every country must take every possible step to protect their citizens. Britain will do that. But we must not allow anything to drive Britain and Egypt apart, or undermine our long-term economic and security partnership.”