Putin and Sisi talks during Cairo visit to focus on Dabaa nuclear plant and Russian flights resumption: FM Shoukry

Ahram Online , Sunday 10 Dec 2017

An excerpt from Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry with Russia Today (Photo:Ahram)

Talks between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Cairo on Monday will be focused on the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt and the construction of the Dabaa nuclear plant, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

During an interview with Russia Today TV channel ahead of the visit, Shoukry said the two leaders will focus on bilateral relations, the situation in Libya and developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, as well as other issues of mutual interest.

Putin first visited Egypt for talks with President El-Sisi in February 2015.

The Egyptian foreign minister stated no specific date to resume air flights. However, he indicated communications are undergoing between transportation ministries in both countries to enhance security measures at Egyptian airports.

Russia suspended flights to Egypt in Novemeber 2015 after a Russian commercial flight crashed over Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all 224 people aboard. Egypt has been implementing tighter security meassures in its airports to meet Russian demands on security, with the aim of restoring Russian visitors to boost its tourism industry.

The two presidents will also discuss the Dabaa nuclear power plant, which Russia has agreed to finance and operate for Egypt, according to a November 2015 agreement. Egypt expects to finalise contracts for its first nuclear power plant before the end or this year, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said in October.

Shoukry highlighted positive developments in research studies related to this important national project.

"The project involves many disparate aspects, between technical, legal and financial, and we have reached advanced level of agreements upon these," Shoukry said.  

In the Russia Today interview, the Egyptian foreign minister reaffirmed his country's rejection of US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the US embassy to the holy city, describing the move as a "dangerous escalation".

On Yemen, Shoukry said that Egypt has no plans to deploy troops to the war-torn country.

Military cofrontations should end and all parties must resolve to dialogue, the foreign minister said, describing the situation in the country as 'worrying'.

The Egyptian foreign minister called for achieving a political solution in light of UN efforts and the Gulf initiative to end the humanitarian suffering of the Yemeni people.

"The military situation in Yemen is heading to its worst, and Egypt, in light of its special relationship with Yemen, is keen on restoring legitimacy and ending the military conflict there," Shoukry said.

Shoukry also noted high level understanding between Cairo and Riyadh on Iranian intervention in the region, as well as with other brotherly nations in the Arab Gulf on protecting Arab national security and rejecting all forms of foreign intervention.

Discussing the war in Syria, he stressed that a political agreement is the only way of ending the crisis, adding that the creation of de-escalation zones was an important tool to encourage a political solution.

"We encourage the Syrian government to take flexible actions to achieve a political resolution in the country," Shoukry said.

On the Gulf row, Shoukry said the crisis is still ongoing with Qatar as Doha has not yet responded with tangible moves to the 13 demands of Arab countries or the six broad “principles” that set the parameters for future talks on how the crisis can be resolved. 

Regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Shoukry described the issue as "sensitive" to Egypt as the Nile represents the sole source of water to the country, saying natural resources shouldn’t be harmed while access is regulated by international law and affirmed within the declaration of principles between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

"Egypt has always respected Ethiopia's right to development, but without harming Egyptian interests. Meanwhile, President El-Sisi has frequently affirmed that Egypt is "keen and capable" of defending its water rights," Shoukry added.  

Commenting on President El-Sisi's frequent statements that Egypt is waging a war against terrorism on behalf of the world, Shoukry affirmed these statements don't represent any desire to form a coalition to fight terrorism on Egyptian territories but only represent a call to stand by Egypt by providing political and economic assistance, as well as logistical tools and arms, to fight terrorism.

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