Washington committed to exerting efforts to ensure Egypt's water security: Official

Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 Sep 2021

US President Joe Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated on Wednesday the US administration's commitment to exerting efforts to ensure Egypt’s water security.

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Sameh Shoukry, Abbas Kamel   Jake Sullivan
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Egypt s General Intelligence Service (GIS) Chief Abbas Kamel with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and several important U.S officials during their meeting on Wednesday 29 September, 2021. Photo courtesy of Egyptian Presidential Facebook page

Sullivan’s remarks came during a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, head of Egypt's General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel, and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, a presidential statement read.

The meeting was also attended by US National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, Sullivan's senior adviser Ariana Berengaut, head of the North Africa Department of the NSC Joshua Harris, and Deputy Ambassador of the US to Egypt Nicole Shampaine.

Regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, Sullivan said that the US is working to preserve the water and development rights of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

President El-Sisi stressed that the international community should play a role in resolving the highly important GERD issue.

The president stressed that “Egypt will not accept any harm to its water interests.”

Earlier in September, the UN Security Council issued a statement encouraging the three sides to return to the AU-sponsored talks to reach a binding deal after earlier rounds collapsed.

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have recently expressed readiness to engage in the African Union-sponsored negotiations to resolve their decade-long dispute over the mega dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile.

The two downstream countries have grave concerns about the potential impact of the GERD, especially in light of Ethiopia's resistance of a binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam.

Ethiopia implemented the first and second phases of filling the dam’s reservoir unilaterally in 2020 and 2021 without an agreement.

Reviving the peace process

During the meeting, El-Sisi affirmed that resolving the Palestinian issue in accordance with international references and restoring Palestinian people's legitimate rights will be of a great impact on the region.

This would lead to bolstering the whole region's security and will open new horizons of peace, cooperation and development, El-Sisi affirmed.

The two sides also discussed during the meeting the developments in the Palestinian issue and how to revive the peace process.

Sullivan affirmed the US’ appreciation of the Egyptian efforts to contain the situation in the Gaza Strip and prevent escalation. He also hailed the Egyptian initiative regarding the reconstruction in the strip.

The two sides agreed on continuing consultation and coordination to ensure maintaining the ceasefire and current de-escalation in Gaza with the aim of improving the humanitarian and living conditions of the Palestinians.

In May, Egypt sponsored a ceasefire deal between Israel and Palestinian factions to end an 11-day episode of Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip, during which more than 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed.

Egypt then sent its intelligence chief Kamel to visit Tel Aviv and Ramallah – in late May and again in August – to push forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and safeguard the Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire in Gaza.

During his visit in August, Kamel met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his national security advisor in Tel Aviv and with President Abbas in Ramallah.

Sullivan is scheduled to host Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata in Washington on 5 October to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ensuring success of Libya's political path

El-Sisi affirmed to Sullivan and the US officials the importance Egypt attaches to ensuring the success of the political path in Libya and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the sisterly country, the statement read.

The president underlined the importance of holding the Libyan elections as scheduled in December this year.

The two sides agreed on intensifying coordination on preparations for the Libyan elections, the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from the country and unifying Libyan security and military institutions.

The meeting also discussed developments in several regional issues, namely in Tunisia, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Egypt’s presidential spokesman said.

El-Sisi affirmed that the effective way for countries suffering from crises to achieve stability in the region is to restore the comprehensive framework of the nation state.

Enhancing four-decade-long ties

During the meeting, El-Sisi asked that his greetings be conveyed to President Biden.

El-Sisi stressed Egypt's keenness to enhance the strategic partnership with the US in light of the US-Egyptian relations that have extended for more than four decades, especially on the security and military levels.

The US-Egyptian partnership has long contributed to enhancing the security and stability efforts in the Middle East in light of the tension and unrest the region faces, El-Sisi said.

Sullivan extended Biden's greetings to El-Sisi and affirmed the US aspiration to boost coordination and develop ongoing strategic cooperation with Egypt during the coming period.

This comes especially in light of Egypt’s pivotal and balanced role in the Middle East, which has become a main factor for the success of the efforts to achieve security, stability and peace, Sullivan said.

Sullivan also hailed Egypt's effective efforts in facing terrorism and extremist thought, affirming the need to boost cooperation between the two countries in this regard in the future.

Sullivan is currently in an official visit to Egypt as part of a Middle East tour that also includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt and the Biden administration have intensified consultations since the escalation in Gaza, starting with consecutive phone calls from Biden in May.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also visited Egypt and met with El-Sisi late in May as part of his first Middle East tour, which included Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

During his meeting with Blinken, El-Sisi affirmed the importance of working immediately to revive direct Palestinian-Israeli talks to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.

Blinken also met with Shoukry last week on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York, during which they discussed the GERD dispute and strategic partnership.

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