Egypt, Saudi Arabia working closely to achieve 'security and stability in the region': Shoukry

Ahram Online , Thursday 16 Dec 2021

Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday that Egypt is working closely with Saudi Arabia to "achieve the security and stability within the region."

A still photo of the joint press conference between Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in Cairo on Thursday

Shoukry made his statement in a Cairo press conference with his Saudi counterpart Faisal Bin Farhan after they chaired a meeting for the political consultation committee gathering officials from both countries.

The committee was founded as per a memorandum of understanding between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in June 2007 to promote coordination and cooperation between the two sides.

The meeting, both ministers said in the joint press conference, exchanged views concerning regional and international issues as well as the stances of both countries regarding threats against stability and security in the region.

Libyan elections

As for Libya, Shoukry and Bin Farhan reaffirmed the necessity of holding the Libyan elections on time, on 24 December, as well as expelling all foreign fighters and mercenaries from the Libyan soil.

The vote is the culmination of a United Nations-led process meant to end the 10 years of turmoil that have wracked Libya following the ouster and killing of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

However, it is unclear whether the vote will take place in 10 days due to disagreements over the legal basis for the vote given procedural delays.

Shoukry said Egypt will continue to cooperate and coordinate with Saudi Arabia and all international partners to follow up on all components agreed upon in accordance with the UN-led process, including the exit of all foreign fighters.

There should be no parties holding arms other than the Libyan National Army and Libyan security institutions, the Egyptian foreign minister underscored.

Two-state solution

During the meeting, both sides also stressed the need to settle the Palestinian cause by reaching a two-state solution that involves the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Saudi Minister Bin Farhan called for halting all violations against Palestinians.

GERD dilemma

The meeting also touched upon the 10-year-old dispute caused by Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile.

Saudi Arabia's top diplomat reiterated his country's full support to the water security of Egypt and Sudan, urging for a legally binding agreement regulating the rules for filling and operating the controversial dam.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for a decade to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement over the GERD, which would secure their water rights and end their related concerns over the impact of the dam on the quantity of water reaching the two countries.

However, Ethiopia has resisted efforts to reach a binding deal and unilaterally conducted two fillings of the dam over the past two years in the absence of an agreement with Egypt and Sudan.

"The water security of Egypt and Sudan is part and parcel of the Arab national security," Bin Farhan stressed in the joint press conference.

No Saudi-Iranian meetings

Bin Farhan denied a direct round of talk between Saudi and Iranian security officials was held in Jordan over the past several days.

"There was no any meeting in Jordan and what happened, as far as I know, is that there was a seminar at a [Jordanian] think-tank centre attended by people from a number of countries," he added.

Recently, both powers have engaged in four rounds of high-level talks aiming to ease tension occurred since cutting ties in 2016.

"No more meetings have been held yet, but we are open for continuing the conversation," Saudi Arabia's top diplomat stressed in Cairo's conference.

Saudi Arabia is at odds with Iran over many regional issues, most notably the situation in Yemen and Syria. The Gulf country also has concerns towards Iran's nuclear programme.

During Cairo's conference, Bin Farhan asserted the necessity of intensifying efforts aimed at preventing Iran from possessing nuclear weapon and withdrawing weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East.

Bin Farahen added that he touched upon the Iranian role in destabilising security during today's meeting, saying "I appreciate Egypt's stance that rejects all the terrorist attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias against the civilian areas in the kingdom."

Separately in a statement issued following the bilateral talks, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that both sides affirmed their rejection of any attempts by regional parties to meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

Both side refuse any interference "whether through tools of ethnic and sectarian incitement, or tools of terrorism and terrorist groups, or through expansionist perceptions that do not respect the sovereignty of states," noted the statement.

The Egyptian side also offered during the meeting its solidarity with the Kingdom for all measures it takes to protect its national security, rejecting any attacks on the Saudi territories.

"The security of the Kingdom and the Arab Gulf region is an integral part of the Egyptian national security," the statement assured.

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