'We are ready to meet with all foreign officials, ‎including Israelis,' says top Egyptian lawmaker

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 16 May 2016

Two US embassy delegations visited Egypt's ‎parliament on Sunday and Monday to discuss ‎cooperation in security, military and economic ‎areas

Egyptian parliament (Reuters)
Egyptian parliament (Reuters)

Kamal Amer, chairman of the Egyptian parliament's ‎Defence and National Security Committee, told reporters ‎on Monday that Egyptian-American relations have ‎largely improved in recent months, adding that "we are ‎ready to hold meetings with all foreign officials, ‎including Israelis, as long as these meetings serve ‎our interests."

"We know that ‎these relations have suffered a setback since 30 June ‎‎[when former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi ‎was ousted from office in an uprising in 2013]," said ‎Amer.

"We hope that what happened ‎was just a summer cloud and that relations ‎between us" are normalised.

Amer's press statement came after he met with the ‎US embassy's advisor for political affairs on Monday ‎to discuss cooperation between the two countries in ‎security and military areas. ‎

The meeting came upon the request of the ‎advisor, according to Amer.

Amer said that parliament's Defence and ‎National Security Committee is ready to hold ‎meetings with foreign officials from all ‎countries "as long as they do not go against ‎parliament's rules, have the speaker's prior approval, ‎and help serve the national security of Egypt."

Amer, a former chairman of Egypt's military ‎intelligence, said he hopes his meeting with the US ‎embassy advisor will reinforce ‎strategic cooperation between Egypt and America.‎

Amer said that he told the US official ‎that there is high potential for cooperation between ‎Egypt and the US in exchanging ‎intelligence, delegations and documents in the areas ‎of security and combating terrorism.

"I also told him ‎that the parliaments in the two countries can cooperate ‎in the area of drafting anti-terror laws," said Amer.‎

Many Egyptian MPs said they strongly support ‎president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's new policy aimed at ‎diversifying Egypt's sources of armament.

Also, many ‎MPs, a number of whom were members of former ‎president Hosni Mubarak's ruling party, are ‎hostile to US President Barack Obama's ‎administration.

One of these MPs told Ahram ‎Online that the last few years clearly showed that it ‎is highly risky to depend on one source for armaments.

"As the Obama administration proved to ‎be highly hostile to Egypt in the last two years, it ‎was necessary for President El-Sisi to turn to other ‎sources such as Russia, China and France," said the MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity.‎

Egypt's parliament approved last February a defence ‎loan agreement with France, helping ‎Egypt buy French military equipment at a record ‎value of 5.9 billion euros.‎

Egyptian MPs also believe that the Obama ‎administration was highly supportive of the Muslim ‎Brotherhood in Egypt.

"Not only did this administration ‎gave support for this group to take office in Egypt ‎after the removal of former president Hosni ‎Mubarak from office, but it still refuses to ‎designate this group as a terrorist organisation," said one ‎MP. ‎

He said that he and many Egyptian MPs have high hopes ‎that the US Congress will pass a law ‎declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist ‎group.

"We saw how many Republican ‎presidential candidates and congressmen accused ‎the Obama administration in recent months of ‎helping this group take power in Egypt, and we hope ‎that this will be reflected in a law imposing a ban on ‎its activities in the US," said the independent MP.‎

Many US congressional delegations have visited ‎Egypt in recent weeks, the most important of which ‎was one led by speaker of the US House of ‎Representatives Paul Ryan in April.‎

Republican senator and former presidential ‎candidate Lindsey Graham said in a visit to Egypt last ‎April that he wants a “Marshall Plan for the Middle ‎East” that would drastically increase US military aid ‎to Egypt and Arab Gulf states. ‎

Graham is the chairman of the US Senate ‎Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign ‎Operations, and Related Programs. He is also a ‎member of the Committee on Armed Services.‎

On Sunday, a US embassy economic delegation met with the head of the Egyptian parliament's Economic ‎Affairs Committee, Ali El-Moselhi. The delegation was ‎led by the US embassy's minister plenipotentiary for ‎economic affairs.‎

A statement by the committee said the meeting ‎involved a review of the economic laws expected to be ‎discussed by Egypt's parliament in the coming ‎period.

"The US embassy minister plenipotentiary ‎also reviewed the prospects of cooperation between ‎Egypt on one side and US-based international ‎finance institutions such as the World Bank in the ‎area of economic development," said the statement. ‎

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