Egypt’s FM arrives in Damascus to extend message of solidarity

Ahram Online , Monday 27 Feb 2023

In the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since 2011, Sameh Shoukry arrived in Damascus on Monday morning to extend a message of solidarity to the Syrian people after the devastating earthquake earlier this month, Spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry Ahmed Abu Zeid said.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in his meeting with Syrian counterpart Minister Faisal Mekdad. Photo : Egyptian Foreign Ministry

Upon his arrival, the Egyptian foreign minister met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, who thanked Egypt and its great people for hosting Syrian refugees and for treating them like brothers in Egypt. 

Shoukry also met with his Syrian counterpart at the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the spokesperson reported.

The Egyptian minister conveyed a message of solidarity and support from the government and people of Egypt with their brothers in Syria as a result of the devastating earthquake, Abu Zeid added.

The foreign minister is also set to visit Turkey as well to further offer his condolences and express solidarity with the similarly affected country.

During a press conference, Shoukry underlined Egypt’s support for the Syrian people, pointing to the 1,500 tons of aid has been sent since the disaster and offered assurances of his government’s willingness to provide more as needed.

When asked about bilateral relations between Egypt and Syria, the foreign minister stressed that the “Syrian people have a special place to Egyptian people and the purpose of this visit in the first place is humanitarian to deliver solidarity at the presidential, governmental and citizen level to the Syrian people…in this tragedy.”

 “We are acting on the basis of humanitarian ties, that is what we are focusing on in the current stage,” he affirmed.

Shoukry’s visit happens to coincide with Speaker of Egypt's House of Representatives Hanafy El-Gebaly’s visit to Damascus upon the resolution of the 34th conference of the Arab Parliamentary Union (APU) which was held in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday – marking the first visit of a high-level official to Syria since 2011.

"The visit comes to show solidarity with the Syrian people and express support after the disastrous earthquake which hit the country on 6 February," El-Gebaly said on Sunday.

Since the quake took place, Egypt has sent many supply planes and ships carrying hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Turkey and Syria in a message of support to both countries.

Shortly after the quake, Egypt sent to Syria a rescue team of medical specialists and rescue technicians alongside the medical aid.

The Egyptian Red Crescent also launched a donation campaign for Syria’s earthquake victims.

Additionally, Egypt’s Tahya Masr designated a bank account at all state-owned banks to receive donations from inside and outside Egypt to send basic goods and pharmaceutical supplies to the victims.

A day after the disaster, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi offered his condolences to the victims of the earthquake in phone calls to both Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The devastating 7.8 magnitude quake, which rocked both Turkey and Syria, has left more than 50,000 dead and displaced millions of others in both countries.

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