High-level consultations

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 12 May 2023

Two high-profile delegations from the US Congress visited Egypt this week

High-level consultations
Al-Sisi with McCarthy


On Saturday, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi received the chair of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Mike Turner, who was visiting Cairo as part of an eight-member congressional delegation that included members of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The meeting was attended by the Director of the Egyptian Intelligence Service Major General Abbas Kamel, and US Chargé d’affaires in Egypt John Desrocher.

Turner, a member of the Republican party, was appointed chair of HPSCI, which has oversight of America’s 17 intelligence agencies, in January 2023.

Presidential Spokesperson Ahmed Fahmi said the meeting underlined the strategic partnership between Egypt and the United States.

“The congressional delegation highlighted Egypt’s key role as a cornerstone of stability and peace in the region and its leading role in fighting terrorism and confronting escalating risks and challenges at the international and regional levels,” said Fahmi.

The president discussed a range of regional crises with delegation members, including the Palestinian cause, and stressed the need to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis with the objective of reaching a just and comprehensive settlement in line with international resolutions.

“The president confirmed that it a just and comprehensive peace will open new horizons in the region that serve the interests of development and prosperity for all peoples,” said Fahmi.

President Al-Sisi also explained that Egypt believes there is an urgent need for a comprehensive ceasefire in Sudan to allow for peaceful dialogue that will lead to the completion of the transitional path in a manner acceptable to the Sudanese people, allowing them to move forward on the path of stability and development.

The visit came two days after the president met another high-level delegation from the US House of Representatives, headed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and including the heads and members of several committees, including Foreign Affairs, the Armed Services, Cybersecurity, Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Appropriations. The Speaker of Egypt’s House of Representatives Hanafi Gebali, and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri attended.

Fahmi said the meeting confirmed the longstanding strategic partnership between Egypt and the United States and that President Al-Sisi has spoken of the importance he attached to communication with congressional leaders. McCarthy, for his part, spoke of his country’s great appreciation of Egypt’s pivotal role in consolidating security, stability and peace in the Middle East, and said the US was keen to further develop cooperation with Egypt.

“The meeting also touched on ways to restore and consolidate international peace and security and address regional developments and crises, mainly the situation in Sudan,” said Fahmi. “President Al-Sisi stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to find political solutions to existing crises in order to preserve the unity of states, safeguard peoples’ capabilities and prevent chaos and destruction.”

The meeting also touched on Palestine. “The president reiterated Egypt’s unwavering position on achieving a just and comprehensive solution that guarantees the rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent state in accordance with the relevant international references, thereby opening new prospects for peaceful coexistence, development and prosperity for all peoples of the region.”

McCarthy, a member of the Republican party, is the 55th and current speaker of the US House of Representatives, elected after an unprecedented 15 rounds of voting.

During his visit, McCarthy held a separate meeting with Shoukri.

“The foreign minister stressed the importance he attached to military cooperation between Egypt and the United States given the dangers posed by terrorist movements, organised crime networks and international crises,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid. “Shoukri and McCarthy also reviewed the emergence of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum as a pillar that will help reinforce a regional economic integration.”

Ashraf Singer, an expert on international relations, told Al-Qahera News channel that “repeated visits from US Congress to Cairo in recent months show that politicians in Washington are impressed by the role Egypt is playing in containing conflicts across the region.”

“They see how Egypt calmed the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza, is trying to mediate a truce between warring factions in Sudan and stabilising the situation in Libya.”

MP Hani Al-Assal noted that while McCarthy’s visit to the Middle East included Israel and focused mainly on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Turner’s visit also covered terrorism and the conflict in Sudan.

“Both delegations underlined the way Washington views Egypt as a cornerstone of regional stability,” said Al-Assal. “President Al-Sisi has always been keen to receive American politicians and reinforce relations with the United States, a superpower with huge political and economic influence.”

* A version of this article appears in print in the 11 May, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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