Last Update 21:17
Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Egyptian parliamentary delegation heads to Washington Saturday for talks with US officials

Head of the delegation Ahmed Saeed said the Egyptian officials would meet with senior White House officials on Tuesday

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 7 Jun 2017
Egyptian Parliament
A file photo of Egypt's Parliament (Photo: Reuters)
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An Egyptian delegation including 12 MPs affiliated with five parliamentary committees is due to arrive in Washington Saturday to exchange views with American politicians and congress people, and discuss relations between Egypt and the US.

Informed sources said the visit will begin Saturday and end Thursday. The delegation will include the heads of four parliamentary committees: Ahmed Saeed, head of the Foreign Relations committee; Saad El-Gammal, head of the Arab Relations Committee; Ahmed El-Sigini, head of the Local Administration Committee; and Gamal Shiha, head of the Education Committee.

The four will be accompanied by deputy head of the foreign relations committee Tarek Radwan; head of the Egyptian-British Parliamentary Friendship Association Dahlia Youssef; appointed MP and professor of Islamic studies Amna Nosseir; Coptic MPs and political analysts Emad Gad and Suzy Rafla, and member of the Economic Affairs Committee Bassant Fahmy.

Mohamed El-Sewedi, head of the majority pro-government "Support Egypt" bloc, said he was unable to join the delegation due to commitments in Cairo.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with the parliamentary delegation on Sunday. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, the meeting covered ways to strengthen US-Egyptian ties.

Abu Zeid said Shoukry underlined the importance of the timing of the visit to follow last month's Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh.

"The visit is also important now that a US administration with a new and clear perspective on counter-terrorism efforts has come to office in Washington," said Shoukry.

Saeed told reporters the trip had originally been scheduled for January, but was delayed to allow for the inauguration of US president Donald Trump and so "the delegation could be expanded and prepare thoroughly for the meetings."

"The delegation aims to address a range of issues concerning terrorism and human rights with American decision-makers and research centres," said Saeed.

Saeed said that the delegation will meet with senior White House officials  on Tuesday. "There will be also a business dinner with these officials," he added.

The MP said the delegation also plans to discuss political Islam and democratisation in Egypt with the new US administration and Congress, as well as lobby the new administration and Republican congress members to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

MP Dahlia Youssef said the visit comes after numerous US congress members visited Cairo in recent months and expressed interest in forming an "American-Egyptian parliamentary friendship association to help reinforce strategic relations between the two countries."

Youssef added that "the foreign ministry took charge of preparing the schedule of the visit."

MP Tarek Radwan told Ahram Online that a report on the dangers of political Islam movements would be presented by the delegation to US Congress members and officials during the visit.

Radwan said the report on political Islam was prepared by the foreign affairs committee and the Egyptian Centre of Free Democracy Studies.

The MP said that Egypt's new NGO law would be also up for discussion during the Washington visit. The new NGO law, ratified by president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on 24 May, has come under sharp attacks from two prominent US senators: John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

The senators slammed the law as "draconian" for what they called "imposing heavy restrictions and effectively banning the work of non-governmental organisations in Egypt."

Radwan said he doubted that either of the above two senators had read the new law.

"I hope that we will be able to hold meetings with high-profile senators and Congress members to discuss the new NGO law and other issues in a very transparent way," he said.

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