Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan met with President Mohamed Morsi and Prime Minister Hesham Qandil on Thursday at the presidential palace in Cairo.
Zeidan met with Qandil earlier on Thursday to discuss relations between the two countries and the recent issues involving Egyptians in Libya including illegal entry to the country and accusations of proselytising by Egyptian Christians.
Posting on his official Facebook page, Qandil said that he and Zeidan “discussed ways of solving the problems of the Egyptians in Libya”. In a press conference following their meeting the pair announced the establishment of “mechanisms to facilitate crossing from Egypt to Libya, taking in to account security aspects”. They also agreed to work towards “regularising the position of Egyptian labour,” and to ensure migrant workers have the correct contracts and certificates.
The two prime ministers then met with Morsi at the palace, briefing him on the outcome of their meeting. A statement published by the presidential spokesperson said that they had agreed to “develop bilateral relations, especially in both economy and trade, increase joint investments and improve ways to support integration between the two countries”.
They also agreed to establish a joint committee “to follow up on the outstanding bilateral issues… and to ensure the security of the Egyptian citizens residing in Libya”.
No specific mention was made of the recent problems facing Egyptian Copts in Libya. At the beginning of March it was reported that nearly 100 Copts had been arrested in Benghazi with some reports of abuse on the part of the Libyan authorities.
It was reported last Tuesday that Libya had deported 256 Egyptians in a crackdown on illegal migrant workers. Many of those deported did not have the correct paperwork to allow them to stay in Libya, according to reports. In January 170 Egyptians were deported, many of whom had entered the country illegally without a visa and in some cases without passports.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr has been in contact with his Libyan counterpart to discuss these issues. The ministry announced last week that the Egyptian consulate in Benghazi had secured the release of 20 Copts from Libya, while 23 remained in custody.
The ministry’s figures conflicted with those of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, who believe the number of Copts arrested in Libya to be closer to 100.
Younes Makhyoun, head of the Salafi Al-Nour party, met with Kamel Amr last Monday and expressed his party’s concern over the way the Libyan authorities had treated detained Egyptians. Spokesperson for the party Nadder Bakkar said that Al-Nour had proposed a plan to implement a 3 month transition period to put a new system in place. He confirmed that the Libyan side had provisionally accepted this proposal.