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UK keen on expanding partnerships to help Egypt

British PM urges Al-Sisi to “ensure human rights are respected in Egypt in the fight against extremism”

President  Abdel Fattah al-Sisi  (AFP PHOTO/STR)
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed on Tuesday Egypt’s “fight against Islamist extremism” and touched upon the situations in Gaza and Libya during a meeting in New York.

Cameron stressed the “pivotal role” Egypt plays in the region, economically and in the fight against Islamist extremism.

However, Cameron urged Al-Sisi to ensure that human rights are respected in Egypt in the fight against extremism, including addressing the large numbers of people in custody and the widespread use of death sentences, a statement by the office of the prime minister said.

The prime minister stressed his country’s wish to see “a stable, prosperous and democratic Egypt,” being Egypt’s “biggest foreign investor”. He added that Egypt needs to help open the door to deeper international assistance by repaying debts to British investors.

Cameron said the United Kingdom was keen to expand “practical partnerships to help Egypt succeed and to work with Egypt to encourage economic growth and create jobs for millions of young Egyptians”.

Al-Sisi and Cameron met on the sidelines of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, where Al-Sisi is leading the Egyptian delegation.

In addition to discussing Egypt, the two sides also addressed the situation in Egypt’s neighbours Gaza and Libya.

They agreed that work in Gaza must continue to encourage “both sides to build on the ceasefire to deliver a lasting peace”. Palestinian factions and Israel agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on 26 August after nearly 50 days of fighting in Gaza left 2,137 Palestinians and 67 Israelis dead.

Palestinian and Israeli delegations held preparatory indirect talks in Cairo on Tuesday and are due to arrive in Cairo next month for more indirect talks.

On Libya, Al-Sisi and Cameron agreed that there is a need to apply a greater international effort to find a political solution to the situation.

This meeting comes after Al-Sisi held talks with an array of top diplomats and figures during his New York trip, including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.

Al-Sisi held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Tuesday, state-run MENA reported. Presidential spokesman Alaa Yousef said Desalegn asserted to Al-Sisi that there would be no damage to Egypt’s water interests, as the two officials had agreed in their previous meeting.

Egypt fears that the dam Ethiopia is currently constructing is going to reduce its share of Nile water.

The two had last held talks on the sidelines of the African Union summit in June. The Egyptian president said afterwards that he had received promises from Desalegn during the talks that the dam would have no negative effects on Egypt’s share of water.

Also on Tuesday, Al-Sisi delivered a brief speech at the UN Climate Change Summit and addressed the need to “invest in renewable energy”.

Al-Sisi is expected to hold talks with US President Barack Obama on Thursday and is also scheduled to deliver a speech before the UN General Assembly on the same day.

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