Cairo discussed possibility of hosting next round of Egypt-US strategic dialogue in 2023: FM

MENA , Ahram Online , Thursday 11 Nov 2021

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said on Wednesday that Egypt discussed with US officials the possibility of holding the next round of the US- Egypt strategic dialogue in Cairo in 2023.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a US-Egypt strategic dialogue event with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 8, 2021. AFP

The recent round of dialogue, held from 8 to 9 November, came up with fruitful outcomes to boost bilateral relations on all fronts, Shoukry told Egyptian and Arab reporters in his residence in the US capital.

Shoukry said the dialogue came to a halt due to some circumstances under the former US administration.

The US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue was launched in the mid-1990s under former US president Bill Clinton. Top level officials from the two sides from a variety of sectors involved in cooperation programmes related to military, education, and everything in between were to meet on a regular basis to review what was achieved and the plans for the future.

Such rounds of discussions continued to be held until 2009, when they were halted, before resuming in 2015. When former republican US president Donald Trump took office in 2017, he met regularly with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and handled the relationship on that level.

Shoukry praised the timing of the strategic dialogue under the current US democratic administration, noting that it reflects the great attention paid by Washington to promoting its ties and strategic partnership with Cairo.

The resumption of the dialogue during the first year of US President Joe Biden’s administration shows that it is very much interested in strengthening ties with Egypt, he further stressed.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday night following the conclusion of the dialogue, the two sides noted that 2022 will be the centennial celebration of the start of US-Egypt diplomatic relations.

Both sides also reaffirmed the importance of their strategic partnership and identified areas in which to deepen bilateral and regional cooperation, including economic and commercial affairs, education, cultural issues, consular affairs, human rights, justice and law enforcement, and defence and security.

They also agreed on the importance of holding this dialogue on a regular basis.

The meetings tackled a number of important issues, including human rights and military ties, Egypt’s top diplomat told reporters, adding that they were characterised by objectivity, comprehensiveness, transparency, and understanding.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed the US’ interest in consolidating cooperation with Egypt regarding the response to climate change, given that Egypt will be hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) next year, Shoukry said.

Additionally, two joint committees for economic cooperation and climate change will be established, Shoukry said.

Shoukry pointed out that he met with a number of US congressmen during his current visit to Washington.

There were also phone calls and videoconference meetings with US officials to enhance cooperation between Cairo and Washington and discuss regional challenges to support security and stability in the Middle East, he said.

Furthermore, the talks reviewed development efforts exerted by Egypt under El-Sisi in different domains.

Shoukry underscored that military ties between Egypt and the US are a major component of the dialogue and cooperation between the armed forces of both countries.

He also underlined that he had meetings with US politicians and military officials to discuss all forms of strategic cooperation in the military and armament domains.

The GERD file

The two sides also discussed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, Shoukry said, noting that the US side reiterated President Biden’s support for Egypt’s water security.

The Egyptian and US delegations to the joint dialogue called for the resumption of negotiations to reach an agreement on the GERD under the auspices of the Chairperson of the African Union, Shoukry said.

This should also come in line with the presidential statement of the United Nations Security Council of September 15, 2021, and the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of Principles, the FM added.

He affirmed that Egypt is fully ready to resume the talks to reach a binding deal that regulates the filling and operation of the dam in a way that does not harm any of the three countries’ interests.

Egypt hopes that the troubling conditions in Ethiopia and Sudan will be over and stability will be restored so that the dam file come return to the front burner once again, Shoukry said.

Palestine and Sudan

Shoukry stressed that Egypt supports Palestinians, particularly Gazans, highlighting Cairo’s allocation of $500 million to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has been exerting great efforts to reconstruct the Gaza enclave, rebuild its infrastructure, and improve economic conditions to ensure a decent life for the Palestinians, he said.

Egypt has received representatives of Hamas as part of reconciliation efforts to ensure calmness and push the peace process, Shoukry added.

He said his talks with the US Congressmen touched upon negotiations on the exchange of prisoners between Hamas and the Israeli occupation forces, noting that the congressmen praised Egypt’s efforts to maintain stability and calmness in the Gaza Strip.

On Sudan, the minister reaffirmed that Egypt hopes that the Arab country could overcome its current crisis through consultation and coordination among all parties. He asserted that Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of any country.

Egypt was not notified about the quartet statement that called for the restoration of the civilian government to power in Sudan, Shoukry said.

The US Department of State published a joint quad statement earlier this month, saying Saudi Arabia, UAE, the UK, and the US, call for the “immediate restoration of Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government and institutions.”

Egypt’s relationship with Sudan is profound and history-honoured, he said, stressing its unwavering support to the Sudanese people.

Syria, Libya, and Iran

Shoukry said Egypt laments that Syria is suffering from destruction and conflicts that claimed many lives and caused the forced displacement of a large number of Syrian people.

He noted that Egypt has a clear stance on Syria, urging to find solutions for the Syrian crisis and to restore the sovereignty, stability, and territorial integrity of the Arab country.

Foreign interference in Syria should be brought to an end and foreign fighters must leave, he said.

Concerning Libya, both Egypt and the US have shared visions on resolving the crisis through a roadmap requiring mercenaries and foreign fighters to leave the country, he said.

On Iran’s interference in some countries in the region, Shoukry stressed that the talks with the US side placed emphasis on the need to maintain Arab security and stop Iranian meddling in the affairs of Arab countries.

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