Egypt-US partnership is important for the region and world: Blinken at presser in Cairo

Ahram Online , Monday 30 Jan 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that the Egypt-US partnership is important for the region and the world at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo on Monday.

Shoukry, Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hold a press conference in Cairo, on January 30, 2023. AFP

Blinken said that Egypt has played "an important role in reducing the intensity of the tensions and violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis including its mediation to reach a truce in 2021 and also last year."

"Amid the horrifying escalation in violence, I discussed with President El-Sisi and FM Shoukry how we can work together to reduce tensions and restore calm," he added.

The US Secretary of State also stresses the "importance of working for a two-state solution."

For his part, FM Shoukry Shoukry said that achieving stability, avoiding escalation, and finding an appropriate political climate is important to reach a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian issue on the basis of the two-state solution.

Shoukry said Egypt and the US have a deep partnership on various regional issues, especially the Palestinian cause, as both aim to calm the situation and deescalate tensions as well as find a suitable political track to settle the crisis based on a two-state solution.

For his part, Blinken hailed the important role that Egypt has played in tackling the crisis in Libya, adding that holding the Libyan elections this year is the only way to achieve a viable solution to the crisis and ensure the right of the Libyan people in choosing their leadership.

Ending GERD dispute

During the presser, Blinken said the climate crisis confirms the necessity of finding a swift diplomatic solution to the long-standing dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

He noted that the Egyptian leadership views the GERD file as an existential matter, stressing that the US supports any solution that takes into consideration the interests of all parties as well as the living conditions of citizens in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Blinken called on all parties involved in the GERD issue to show the spirit of flexibility to deal with the existential interests that Egypt has in this regard.

Promoting human rights

​He said he welcomes the recent steps taken by the country on promoting human rights issues including protecting religious freedoms and women as well as holding a national dialogue and reactivating the presidential pardon committee.

Blinken added that the US will continue discussions with Egypt to take further actions on human rights, including "releasing all political prisoners and achieving reforms that ensure that Egyptians can express themselves without any consequences."

He stressed in the presser that achieving results on issues related to human rights affects decisions made by the US and Congress vis-a-vis Egypt.

Easing economic pressure

Blinken said the Russsia-Ukraine war has greatly impacted the Egyptian people since Egypt is the biggest wheat importer from Russia and Ukraine.

He asserted that Washington is willing to help ease the pressure of the war on Egypt's economy and help achieve food security, citing the latest US investment of some $50 million in support of the country's agricultural sector.

Egypt and the US marked last year the centennial of their relations but the focus now is on the shared future, which was a main point on Monday’s agenda, he stressed.

The current challenges facing Egypt include dealing with the impact of inflation, food price hikes, the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, and disruptions to the world supply chains, Blinken noted.

These challenges are having a great impact on the daily lives of the Egyptian people, Blinken said,

He added that the US fully recognises the need to take action to resolve these issues.

For his part, FM Shoukry said work is underway to resume the meeting of the Egyptian-US economic committee this year, especially amid the current global economic conditions.

Shoukry expressed hope that more US investments would be brought into Egypt in the future and for further joint cooperation to face the challenges.

The crisis that Egypt and developing countries are currently facing, represented in the ongoing inflation, pressure in food and energy security, and price hikes, requires further cooperation between Egypt and the US, Shoukry said.

He added that such cooperation comes within the framework of their strategic relations and US capabilities, including through international financing institutions and the two countries’ bilateral relations.

“I sensed from Secretary Blinken his understanding of these economic pressures and the desire for contribution to alleviate these pressures,” Shoukry stated.

Egypt hopes that the coming joint economic committee meetings between the two countries will set mechanisms for cooperation, not only between private sectors but also by utilising US resources to ease the pressures on the Egyptian people at this critical time, Shoukry said.

Economic cooperation

Blinken said that building economic cooperation with Egypt in the long term is a priority for the US.

The US has mobilised $600 million to build a subsea telecommunications cable to ensure reliable and fast communication through Egypt and the Horn of Africa, Blinken said.

Blinken added that the US supports Egypt in wind and solar power and wants to ensure that the US companies take part in this field.

The US Secretary of State arrived in Cairo on Sunday on the first leg of his three-day Middle East trip and held a conversation with a group of youth at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the evening.

Earlier today, Blinken discussed with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi a host of regional and international issues as well as bilateral relations at a meeting in Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in the Egyptian capital.

Blinken has departed for Israel to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is scheduled to travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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