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High-level Egyptian officials to formulate response to Italy halting military spare parts

Representatives from several state authorities will attend a ‎parliamentary meeting on Monday to formulate a ‎response to Italy's decision not to supply Egypt with ‎military spare parts

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 13 Jul 2016
Egypt
Members of Egypt's Parliament attend a session in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 (AP)
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Kamal Amer, head of the Egyptian parliament's Defence ‎and National Security Committee, told reporters that ‎representatives from various state bodies will attend a high-level parliamentary ‎meeting on Monday “upon ‎the orders of speaker Ali Abdel-Al and in response ‎to Italy's decision not to supply Egypt with some ‎spare parts for F-16 fighter planes.”

The meeting will be attended by intelligence officials, the ministries ‎of interior and foreign affairs and the prosecution-‎general.

Italy's decision, adopted by the Italian parliament on ‎‎7 July, came in response to what it says is Egypt's ‎failure to cooperate in the investigation into the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in ‎Cairo last January.‎

Amer said the representatives of the above-mentioned authorities will participate in a joint ‎meeting with parliament's three committees of ‎defence and national security, foreign affairs and ‎human rights.‎

Amer told reporters that MPs affiliated with the three committees held a preliminary meeting ‎Sunday to prepare for Monday's meeting and ‎issue a report to be submitted to parliament speaker Abdel-Al.‎

Amer said "Italy as a sovereign state has the right to ‎adopt the decision that suits its interests and we on ‎our side will try our best to convince it to scrap this ‎decision."

However, Amer, who is a former ‎chief military intelligence and is close to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, warned that "Egypt's efforts not to adopt a ‎confrontational agenda against Italy does not mean ‎that it does not have other options."  

Amer told reporters that "We, Egypt’s MPs and ‎government, are very keen on seeing Egyptian-Italian ‎relations remain strong. Italy was, after all, the first ‎European country to support Egypt's 30 June ‎Revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood, and ‎Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was the first to ‎visit Egypt after the revolution," said Amer.‎

Amer added that in appreciation of Italy's post-30 ‎June stand, President El-Sisi spoke on the phone ‎with Italian PM Renzi several times to assure him ‎that Egypt will provide Italy with all the necessary ‎information about Regeni's death.

‎"Several Italian delegations ‎visited Egypt, the last of which was on 7 May and ‎after they returned to Italy they stressed that they ‎got all the information they needed from Egyptian ‎prosecution authorities," Amer said.‎

He disclosed that a high-profile Egyptian internal ‎law professor attended the three committees' ‎preliminary meeting yesterday.

"We wanted to seek ‎his advice on how to contain the crisis with Italy," ‎said Amer, concluding that "for the moment we ‎will refrain from any rough diplomacy with Italy."

‎‎"Among the proposals put forward to contain this ‎crisis is that an Egyptian parliamentary delegation ‎visit Italy's parliament," said Amer, adding that "all Italy needs to know is who killed Regeni, and ‎this is also what Egypt wants to know."‎

Meanwhile, MPs showed mixed reactions to the ‎Italian parliament's decision to halt some military ‎spare parts to Egypt. Many MPs, like Free ‎Egyptians Party MP Tarek Radwan, accused Rome ‎of using the "criminal" Regeni case "as a tool of ‎political exhortation."

"Italian parliament's hasty and ‎arrogant decision comes while Italy has never given ‎Egypt any information on the killing of several ‎Egyptians in Italy," said Radwan.‎

Radwan and many other MPs believe that it is easy ‎for Egypt to get the F-16 spare parts from several ‎other sources.

"Italy will be wrong if it thinks that this ‎measure can hit Egypt very hard," said Radwan.‎

An MP who asked not to be identified said "it is no ‎secret that in combating terrorists in Sinai and ‎elsewhere, Egypt is currently depending on different ‎fighter aircraft like the French Rafale and the ‎Russian MIG, and not just the American F-16.

"This ‎is the result of what President El-Sisi, Egypt's ‎former military chief, diversifying Egypt's military ‎imports," said the MP, also indicating that "the US ‎itself, rather than Italy, is Egypt's major supplier of ‎F-16 spare parts."‎

Another Free Egyptians Party MP, Nadia Henry, ‎begs to differ with her colleague MPs. Henry ‎accuses the Egyptian government of "not dealing ‎seriously enough with the Regeni case."‎

"Despite its claims to the contrary, the Egyptian ‎government has not been serious about cooperating ‎with Italian judicial authorities in investigating the ‎Regeni case. They thought that the Regeni case will ‎come to an end without any repercussion and this ‎allowed radical MPs in the Italian parliament to exert ‎pressure on the Renzi government and issue their ‎arrogant decision," claimed Henry.‎

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