Thursday,23 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1327, (12 - 18 January 2017)
Thursday,23 May, 2019
Issue 1327, (12 - 18 January 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Coordinating efforts

Sameh Shoukri’s visit to Oman comes at a time when the region desperately needs to coordinate responses to ongoing challenges, writes Doaa El-Bey

Sameh Shoukri
Sameh Shoukri

Though the main aim of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri’s two-day visit to Oman, which began Sunday, was to boost bilateral relations and follow-up on the implementation of joint projects it had additional goals apart from bilateral relations.

“Given deteriorating relations with Qatar, and to a lesser extent with Saudi Arabia, improving ties and coordinating with GCC member Oman has grown importance,” said a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Bilateral relations between Egypt and Oman have generally been good. Thus, the visit had a more ambitious agenda than bilateral relations. The difficult situation in the regions means Arab states must coordinate their efforts to face the challenges,” the diplomat added.

Oman is one of the few Arab states that maintains good relations with Iran. It neighbours Yemen and has used its good relations with Tehran to mediate peace talks between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the Yemen’s UN recognised government.

Rapprochement and coordination on a bilateral level ahead of the Arab summit — scheduled for March in Amman — is also to be welcomed.

“The challenges facing Arab states require joint Arab efforts and inter-Arab unity. The coming summit is a chance to exchange points of view among Arab leaders in order to boost joint Arab efforts,” Shoukri told Omani news agencies following his visit.

During Shoukri’s visit he met his counterpart, Yusuf Bin Alawi. The two officials discussed ways of enhancing bilateral relations and agreed to begin preparations for a meeting of the joint Egyptian-Omani committee, likely to be convened this year in the Omani capital Muscat. They also discussed the situations in Libya, Yemen and Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.

Shoukri briefed his interlocutors on Egypt’s efforts to help Libyan factions reach a political consensus. Cairo is actively pursuing a solution to the Libyan crisis and has hosted several meetings of Libyan politicians from different factions.

Bin Alawi discussed Oman’s ongoing efforts to find a political solution to the current turmoil in Yemen.

Preparations for the next Arab summit were also high on Shoukri and Alawi’s agenda.

“They agreed that the summit should be unconventional and that Arab states needed to be able to come up with a new vision to deal with the unprecedented challenges facing the region,” reads the post meeting statement.

The two officials had a lengthy discussion about ways to address the security and humanitarian repercussions of the Syrian crisis and how to give Syrians a chance to determine their future without external inteference.

Shoukri conveyed a verbal message from President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to Oman’s Sultan Qabbous Bin Said during his meeting with the sultan’s personal representative Sheikh Assad bin Taymour Al-Said.

The two officials discussed the problems facing the region, especially Omani efforts to reach a peaceful settlement to the Yemeni crisis.

Other issues, including Iraq and the dangers posed by terrorism, were also discussed.

“Shoukri emphasised during the meeting Egypt’s appreciation of the strong relations that bind the two states, and the sultan’s wise policies that have managed to maintain the stability and independence of his country in the face of major challenges facing the region,” Abu Zeid said after the meeting.

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