Egypt's President Morsi invited to London by Hague

Ahram Online, Tuesday 11 Sep 2012

At a press conference in Cairo, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague invites President Morsi to London, announces upcoming UK trade ministry delegation, and welcomes Morsi's hardline stance on Syria

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (R) and Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr meet British Foreign Secretary William Hague (C) at the presidential palace in Cairo September 11, 2012.(Photo: Reuters)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has extended an official invitation to President Mohamed Morsi to visit London, which would be the first time an Egyptian president has officially travelled to the UK in a decade.

"I delivered a letter from Prime Minister David Cameron to President Morsi inviting the president," said Hague, who is currently visiting Egypt, at a Tuesday press conference held at the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

"We want to build an effective partnership which will strengthen democracy in Egypt, build prosperity and increase security for the people of both our countries."

Hague, who held the public meeting together with his Egyptian counterpart Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, also announced that the UK will be sending over a British lawyer to assist the Egyptian prosecutor-general in the ongoing investigations into Mubarak regime frozen assets in London.

The UK will ensure that Egyptians who have been prosecuted for corruption and fled to London return to Egypt, he said. Some of the most prominent figures from the Mubarak regime escaped to London during the Egyptian revolution, including former finance minster Youssef Boutros Ghali.

Hague failed to offer any specific information about the stolen assets, and nor did he mention a time frame for repatriation, what the assets are or which Mubarak regime figures own them.

Hague affirmed that economic ties are strong between the two countries. "The UK is the largest foreign investor in Egypt, and during this visit I have met with British companies operating here."

He also announced that the British minister of trade will lead a delegation covering key sectors to Cairo, "building on the very successful visit by the Prime Minister [David Cameron] in 2011."

For his part, the Egyptian foreign minister said that the two have discussed the prospects of increasing British investments in Egypt, especially in small and medium enterprises. This follows Hague's meetings with British businessmen in Egypt and young entrepreneurs earlier that afternoon.

The British government official moved on to discuss Syria, welcoming Morsi's recent speech in Tehran condemning President Bashar Al-Assad's actions and describing Egypt as an "influential international leader."

"We are working very closely together on key foreign policy issues [including] the appalling situation in Syria, " Hague added.

The foreign secretary confirmed that the two countries will form a partnership through Wilton Park, a global forum for strategic discussion based in the UK, convening conferences in Egypt on foreign policy issues.

"This visit has served to further broaden and deepen already strong ties existing between our two countries," Hague said. "We want to build an effective partnership which will strengthen democracy in Egypt, build prosperity and increase security for the people of both our countries."

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