Shoukry visit to Indonesia, his first official visit to Indonesia as Egyptian foreign minister since assuming office, comes as the third leg of his current Asian tour that started last week and has so far included Malaysia and Singapore.
The Egyptian FM's visit comes as Egypt and Indonesia mark the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, as Egypt was the first Arab country to recognise Indonesia’s independence in March 1947.
Shoukry signed the MoU on the establishment of a joint commission during a press conference with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, saying they agreed to start preparations for the commission’s first meeting at the earliest opportunity.
The commission “will act as an institutional framework for all of our bilateral cooperation mechanisms between our two countries,” Shoukry said during the press conference.
Marsudi hailed the signing of the MoU with Egypt to establish a joint commission, saying it will serve as a “solid foundation for our future cooperation in various fields.”
Egypt is Indonesia’s third largest trade partner in the Middle East and one of Indonesia’s most important partners in Africa, Marsudi said.
Despite the pandemic, the trade value between Egypt and Indonesia in 2021 has increased by 57.6 percent to $1.86 billion, she added.
The Indonesian minister said her country and Egypt will soon sign an MoU on the establishment of a joint trade committee between the trade ministers of both countries.
She added that she agreed with Shoukry on the need to explore further investment opportunities between the two countries.
Shoukry hailed Indonesia as a major trading partner, saying the two countries are keen to work together to foster their economic and trade relations and expedite the convening of the joint trade committee between their trade ministers.
Inviting Widodo to COP27
Shoukry, also president-designate of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) - set to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in November - said Egypt extended an invitation to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to attend the conference during their meeting earlier in the day.
“We believe that his excellency’s participation will enhance the prospects of a successful outcome of COP27, especially in his capacity as the current chairman of G20,” Shoukry said.
Shoukry also handed a letter to Widodo from Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi regarding the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
During his meeting with Widodo, Shoukry also affirmed Egypt’s keenness to develop relations with Indonesia and highlighted the need for continuing bilateral consultations.
Areas of mutual concern
Shoukry said he discussed with Marsudi regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the situations in Palestine, Libya, Yemen, Syria as well as Ukraine.
He added that discussions with Marsudi included the interference in Arab national security by extra regional powers and the common efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.
Marsudi said she also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with the Egyptian FM.
Concerning Ukraine, Shoukry said he agreed with Marsudi on the need for reaching a political settlement to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
“I think [the crisis’s] effect on international security and its impact on our economic development is well recognised,” Shoukry stated.
Meanwhile, Marsudi affirmed that both Egypt and Indonesia call for supporting the Palestinian efforts for independence.
She said she has agreed with Shoukry on continuing to encourage the resumption of multilateral negotiations within the Palestinian-Israeli peace process based on internationally agreed parameters with the aim of achieving a two-state solution.
Various fields of cooperation
Egypt and Indonesia enjoy strong historical and cultural relations that have extended for decades, Shoukry said, hailing their “excellent level of coordination on regional and international affairs”
Egypt and Indonesia cooperate in various areas bilaterally in the political, economic, cultural and educational fields as well as on security, he added.
“Both countries have been bound by their mutual historic experiences. They both struggled for independence, initiated Afro-Asian solidarity, and founded the Non-Aligned Movement,” the top Egyptian diplomat said.
Meanwhile, Marsudi said she agreed with Shoukry to bolster the two countries’ commitment to promoting equal access to coronavirus vaccines as an “important tool” to overcome the pandemic.
“In this regard, I sressed the importance of exchanging experience as well as best practices in our vaccine industry,” she added.
Both Egypt and Indonesia are included in the list of recipients of the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines.
Marsudi extended appreciation to Egypt for the attention it is paying to thousands of Indonesians enrolled in educational facilities in Egypt, particularly at Al-Azhar University.
She added that she discussed with Shoukry promoting the Indonesian language (Bahasa) in Egypt, noting that the Indonesian language is currently offered as the second language course in the Faculty of Language and Translation of Al-Azhar University
“As two countries with large Muslim populations, we also share the same views on the importance of promoting tolerance,” she added.
During his visit to Indonesia, Shoukry also held meetings with Indonesia’s Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani and Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dato Lim Jock Hoi.
The Egyptian FM also met with Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, during which they signed an MoU on environment protection and sustainable development.