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US visit for initial communication with Trump administration: Foreign Minister

Shoukry met with speaker of the US house of representatives to give him an overview on the economic, social and political conditions in Egypt

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday that the goal of his visit to the United States is to follow up on bilateral relations, and for initial communication with the administration of US president-elect Donald Trump.

The visit also included meetings with Republican and Democrat leading figures, Shoukry said on an interview with state-owned TV during his visit to Washington DC. He added that Trump’s meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in September demonstrated a common vision regarding several regional issues.

It is obvious that the new US administration will follow the same steps as Egypt regarding regional issues including terrorism, Shoukry said.

The minister concluded his interview saying that during his visit he discussed the US military aid to Egypt with congressional committees as this aid needs to be increased due to the challenges Egypt is facing.

The US halted its military aid to Egypt following the latter’s ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 by the Egyptian Armed Forces, a move that the US described as a military coup. The Obama administration was not on good terms with Egypt following the ouster; however, President Barack Obama resumed the military aid in May 2015 over concerns of Islamic State (IS) militants.

Bilateral relations between Egypt and the US are expected to improve under Trump’s administration, because unlike Obama and the Democrats, Trump and the Republicans seem to be indifferent towards Egypt’s deteriorating record of human rights and the ouster of Morsi.

During his visit, Shoukry met with the speaker of the US house of representatives, Paul Ryan. The minister gave him an overview of the economic, social and political conditions in Egypt. Shoukry further explained the social and economic reforms undertaken by Egypt and their importance in restoring and restructuring the economy, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Ryan requested to convey a message of support to Al-Sisi from the congress, adding that he is keen to visit Egypt to bolster the depth of bilateral relations.

Shoukry delivered a speech at a forum organised by the Brookings Institute’s Saban Centre for Middle East Policy. In his speech, Shoukry discussed Egypt’s foreign policy towards the ongoing problems in the Middle East. He added that Egypt supported systematic changes following the 2011 revolution that aimed to change “decades-long unaccepted reality”. These changes led to the integrity and stability of Egyptian institutions, unlike what happened in several other countries, he said.

The minister further tackled the Syrian crisis, saying that Egypt’s vision of a solution to the current turmoil in Syria lies on two main pillars. The first is to preserve national unity and territorial integrity and to prevent the collapse of Syrian institutions. The second is to support the aspirations of the Syrian people to rebuild Syria through a political solution.

Shoukry also touched upon the turmoil in Libya and Yemen, adding that the Palestinians can no longer be denied their right in an independent state.

Shoukry held several other meeting during his visit to the US, including vice president-elect Mike Pence, US secretary of state John Kerry, and several congress members.

Shoukry’s visit to the US is the first by an Egyptian official since the election of Donald Trump in November. Several analysts expect bilateral relations between Egypt and the US to flourish under a Trump administration. Al-Sisi was reportedly the first foreign dignitary to congratulate Trump on winning the US presidential elections.


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