Egypt has made major contributions to settle ME crises: US diplomat

Ahram Online , Wednesday 10 Nov 2021

Yael Lempert, the acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said that Egypt has made major contributions to solve the crises affecting the Middle East, including in Gaza, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Yael Lempert
Acting Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert

President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan conveyed during a meeting in Cairo in late September the American president’s appreciation for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, highlighting Cairo’s important role in promoting regional stability and de-escalation, Lempert said in an interview with Egyptian private newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday.

The US diplomat also said that Egypt has made important contributions to solve regional issues, adding that such contributions were reflected in the summit that brought together El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in September.

They are also apparent in the ongoing US-Egyptian cooperation following the Gaza ceasefire earlier this year, she added.

“Egypt, likewise, is making significant contributions to support Libya’s elections, promote Iraq’s reintegration into the region, and mitigate the risks of conflict in the Horn of Africa,” Lempert said, adding that — through its membership in the Arab League and the African Union — Egypt is involved in other critical issues in the region.

Egypt, Lempert stressed, is a key counterterrorism partner and its pioneering and courageous role in advancing peace in the Middle East deserves enduring appreciation.

The US diplomat also stressed that both President Biden and President El-Sisi share a commitment to the partnership between their two countries.

She lauded Egypt’s approval of hundreds of critical over-flights and ship transits through the Suez Canal to support the US evacuation efforts from Afghanistan on the heels of the American military withdrawal from Kabul.

Additionally, Lempert said that the US is impressed by Egypt’s leadership role in co-founding the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum to promote regional energy cooperation, praising the forum’s focus on de-carbonisation and promoting the use of cleaner forms of fuel for shipping. 

As for human rights, she hailed Egypt’s decision to end the state of emergency and release a national human rights strategy, saying “we continue to engage with Egypt on human rights to advance our goals of promoting freedom of peaceful expression, opening civil society space, and ensuring accountability.”

She added that Biden and El-Sisi agreed on the importance of a constructive dialogue on human rights, a linchpin of both countries’ ongoing cooperation. 

“Egypt, where the government protects the human rights of all individuals is a core focus of U.S. policy,” Lempert stressed.

On the long-standing issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the US diplomat said Biden supports a diplomatic resolution for the issue, saying “a resolution of the dispute over the GERD that addresses the water management needs of all parties is urgently needed.”

“Our diplomacy is fully engaged to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to reach an arrangement through negotiation,” she added. 

Lempert expressed her country’s understanding of Egypt’s concerns about access to the Nile River’s waters and other water-related issues.

She added that the US has made an enduring, long-term investment in Egypt’s water sector that will continue to help Egypt cope with water insecurity. 

The US has invested $3.5 billion over the past four decades to support water initiatives in Egypt, bringing clean water and sanitation services to 25 million Egyptians — a quarter of Egypt’s population — among other achievements, Lempert noted.

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