Ali Abdel-Aal, speaker of Egypt's parliament (L) shakes hands with deputy speaker of German parliament Johannes Singhammer (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)
In preparation for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's much-anticipated visit to Egypt on 2 March, a number of high-profile German MPs arrived in Cairo this week.
The Egyptian parliament's press office announced in a statement that Ali Abdel-Aal, the speaker of the House of Representatives, met the German delegation led by the deputy speaker of the German parliament (Bundestag), Johannes Singhammer, on Tuesday.
The pair discussed bilateral relations, said the statement, adding that "they discussed boosting cooperation between Egypt and German in different fields and the possibility of creating new common grounds between Egypt and German on a number of international and regional issues."
The meeting was attended by the German ambassador to Egypt, Julius George Luy, the head of parliament's foreign relations committee, Ahmed Said, and the head of the human rights committee, Alaa Abed.
The statement revealed that more German MPs and politicians are expected to visit Cairo in the next few days to pave the way for Chancellor Merkel's two-day visit on 2-3 March.
"Another delegation of German MPs have also arrived in Cairo to hold talks with Egyptian counterparts who are members of the Egyptian-German Parliamentary Friendship Association," said the statement.
Mohamed El-Orabi, a former foreign minister of Egypt and a former Egypt ambassador in Germany, told reporters Tuesday that members of the association will hold a roundtable discussion on the future of relations between the two countries on Tuesday.
The statement added that a third German delegation will arrive in Cairo on Wednesday.
Alaa Abed, head of the human rights committee, told reporters that the speaker and MPs had seized their meeting with German MPs to thank Germany's support for Egypt, especially in the two areas of energy and armaments.
"We also told the German delegation that Egypt needs more direct German investments and an open tourist traffic from Germany to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada," said Abed.
Abed also indicated that the meeting focused on terrorism and irregular migration.
"The parliament speaker talked in detail about new laws which were issued to fight illegal migration, human trafficking and combat terrorism," said Abed, adding that "German MPs showed a big interest in Egypt's successful battle against terrorism."
A statement issued by the speaker's office said the meeting with the German parliamentary delegation also reviewed the situation of human rights in Egypt and the new law on church building.
According to the statement, Singhammer highly lauded Egypt's efforts aimed at reforming religious discourse.
"Singhammer also hailed Egypt's economic reform programme, especially liberalising the exchange rate," said the statement, adding that Singhammer and German MPs will convey a message of economic and political stability about Egypt.
"We are also keen to show Germans that Egypt is a safe tourist destination and that the numbers of German tourists in Egypt should increase," said the statement.
The German parliamentary delegation also met with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and the newly appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan.
Sources said Ismail gave the German delegation a brief about Egypt's economic and political reforms and the war against militant jihadist groups in the peninsula of Sinai.
Sources added that Ismail spoke about the fact that around five million refugees are now living in Egypt. "Out of this number, as many as 500,000 Syrians also live in Egypt," said Ismail.
A statement by the speaker's office said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will hold a meeting with parliament's foreign affairs committee on Thursday to answer questions about foreign policy from both MPs and journalists.