Egypt FM calls for international ‘commitment’ against IS group: CNN interview

Hana Afifi , Tuesday 17 Mar 2015

Sameh Shoukry discuses Islamic State, Israel-Palestine and the state of democracy in Egypt in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN

Sameh Shoukry
A still image form CNN interview with Egypt's FM Sameh Shoukry

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has called for international "commitment" to combat the Islamic State group (IS) in Libya.

In an interview on Monday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Shoukry said the threat to Egypt from the IS group in Libya was “substantial.”

“I think we have to be true to our commitments as an international community in this fight,” Shoukry told Amanpour.

He cited the recent creation of a US-led coalition of 80 countries to fight the IS group following the killing of an American and an Englishman in Iraq, as an example of taking the issue of terrorism seriously.

However, Shoukry cautioned that  "the dangers existing in Libya are equal, if not of the same magnitude, and that the lives of 21 Egyptians are certainly worth the international community’s active participation.”

On 16 February Egypt and Libya launched airstrikes on IS group targets in the North African country following the decapitation of 20 Egyptians and a Chadian bt the Islamist militants.

He also called upon Iraqis to unify, beyond the sectarian divide, in the fight against IS, which seized most of northern and western Iraq last summer and is trying to regain control of Tikrit, located 140km northwest of Baghdad.

Amanpour asked Shoukry how Egypt views the parliamentary elections in Israel, to which he responded that Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

However, he added, “We believe that we must approach the Israeli-Palestinian peace process under any Israeli government and under any Palestinian representation.”

Shoukry called for the “full engagement by all parties” to reach a two-state solution and “finally end the conflict.”

US-backed talks between Palestinians and Israelis collapsed in April 2014, followed by Israel’s deadly war on Gaza in the summer, and lastly by Palestine’s resolution at the UN Security Council in December to end the Israeli occupation.

As for Egypt’s stance on nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries, Shoukry stated, “We are following closely and we hope that this region stays free of weapons of mass destruction, and avoids any potential arms race.”

The deadline for a nuclear agreement is scheduled for 31 March, after which the technicalities will be outlined by 30 June.

Amanpour asked whether Cairo would definitely implement the new capital city project recently announced.

“It certainly will,” Shoukry replied, describing it as a “national project.”

“It is the hope of the government that it will be implemented within a very short time frame, at least the nucleus of the new capital city,” the foreign minister said.

Egypt unveiled plans for what it presented as a new administrative capital at Egypt's Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh on 13-15 March.

The conference was attended by 2,000 delegates from 112 nations, including heads of state, top multinational company executives and directors from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Finally, Amanpour discussed current democratic conditions in Egypt with the foreign minister.

She asked Shoukry to expand on a recent quote from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah rejecting western perceptions of the democratic process in Egypt.

“You look at Egypt with American eyes. Democracy in your country has evolved over 200 years. Just give us a chance to develop. If we rush things, countries like ours will collapse," the president recenty told the Washington Post.

Shoukry replied that Egyptians are the ones who can evaluate the progress of democracy in their own country.

“The current democratic process is forged by the will of the Egyptian people. They determine to what extent, and they are the ones who judge the application of democratic principles,” Shoukry said.

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