Egypt's FM says disputes ongoing with Qatar, hopes for improvement

Ahram Online, Saturday 28 Dec 2013

Egypt's foreign minister defends country's decision to tag the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy speaks during a meeting with foreign media in Cairo, Egypt Aug. 3, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy expressed Saturday Egypt's hopes to improve relations with Qatar.

"There was and still are disputes between us [Egypt] and Qatar. However, we are following and assessing the situation, hoping to witness practical and tangible steps ... that reflect intentions to re-employ Qatar's effort for the interest of the Arab region," said Fahmy during an interview with UK-based Sky News TV channel.

Tensions have dominated relations between Egypt and Qatar, a former strong ally to the Muslim Brotherhood, since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi 3 July.

The oil-rich Gulf state was frequently criticised by Egyptian officials for the coverage of events by Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera TV network.

The local Al-Jazeera channel, Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, has come under fire in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster, with accusations levelled against it of bias towards the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian officials claiming that the station poses a threat to national security. 

A number of Al-Jazeera journalists have been arrested and detained since Morsi’s ouster.

On 3 September, a Cairo court ordered that the channel be taken off air, along with several channels deemed to be linked to Islamists.

During Saturday's interview, Fahmy went on to affirm Egypt's "good relations" with the majority of Arab states.

On designating the Brotherhood a terrorist group

Regarding the cabinet's decision to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group Wednesday, Fahmy said it is a political decision that is implementing Egypt's penal code. 

He confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started revising agreements on terrorism, and that it will take the necessary procedures to inform Arab countries and the Arab League of its decision.

Wednesday's designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group came after the deadly bombing Tuesday in the Delta city of Mansoura that killed 16 near the city's Security Directorate. 

The government has blamed the Islamist group for orchestrating attacks on its buildings and security personnel since the ouster of Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood denies the accusations.

Syria crisis

Fahmy went to reveal that the coming period will witness increased communications between Egypt and different parties on the Syrian crisis, with the aim of working effectively to resolve the current crisis.

"The Egyptian stance targets preserving Syria and enabling the Syrian people to chose their leaders and the state system in accordance to their free will," Fahmy said.

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