Saturday,23 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1385, (15 - 21 March 2018)
Saturday,23 February, 2019
Issue 1385, (15 - 21 March 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Strengthening relations with Africa

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri makes a short visit to South Sudan and Kenya, reports Doaa El-Bey


Shoukri and Kiir in South Sudan on Monday
Shoukri and Kiir in South Sudan on Monday

In a press statement issued ahead of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri’s visit to South Sudan and Kenya ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukri was “seeking to boost bilateral cooperation with the two countries and hold consultations on a number of regional files”.

On Monday, during the first leg of the tour, Shoukri met South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir. The two officials signed a memo to establish a mechanism for political consultation. Shoukri then met with Nhial Deng Nhial, South Sudan’s senior advisor and presidential envoy, and members of the South Sudan National Dialogue which Egypt backs.

Last year Cairo sponsored the signing of a declaration of unification between two factions of the South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni attended the signing in Cairo.

Shoukri also held a meeting with South Sudan’s Minister of Health Riek Gek and visited the Egyptian clinic in Juba. At the end of his visit he opened the kidney dialysis centre that Egypt has donated to the Juba Educational Hospital.

Shoukri underscored Egypt’s continued support for South Sudan’s health sector, which includes sending a team of experts next month to train local employees in how to use the dialysis units.  

He oversaw the handover of logistical aid package from the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD). The EAPD was established in July 2014 to help transfer knowledge and experience in the diplomatic, judicial, energy, agriculture, education, irrigation, communication and security sectors.

The meetings with South Sudanese officials follow President Al-Sisi’s own meeting with South Sudan’s Minister of Presidential Affairs Mayik Deng, in Cairo which was attended by both Shoukri and the Chief of General Intelligence Abbas Kamel.

Deng briefed his interlocutors on the latest developments in South Sudan and efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.

South Sudan seceded from the north in July 2011 but development projects have been seriously disrupted since the country slipped into civil war in 2013. Five years of fighting have left tens of thousands dead and displaced millions.

Aid resumed in 2015 since which date, says Abu Zeid, Egypt has provided “four stations for generating electricity, schools, medical centres and irrigation support”.

“Shoukri’s visit is a chance to follow up on a number of cooperation projects, including opening an Egyptian cultural centre in Juba and organising training courses in the fields of security, education, health and diplomacy,” Abu Zeid said in his statement.

The second leg of Shoukri’s tour took him to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and delivered a message from Al-Sisi on boosting cooperation and enhancing relations between the two countries.

Abu Zeid said the visit to Kenya “holds special importance in light of historical relations between the two countries and Egypt’s keenness to support development in Kenya”.

Shoukri also met Kenya’s ministers of foreign affairs and defence and renewed President Al-Sisi’s invitation to President Kenyatta to visit Egypt soon, suggesting a joint committee meeting at the ministerial level be held in Cairo in May.

The Renaissance Dam and relations between Nile Basin states were high on Shoukri’s agenda for his brief African tour as he underlined Cairo’s keenness to reach a consensus on the Framework Agreement based on respect for the principles of international law.

Egypt has endeavoured to play a positive development role in Kenya. The EAPD has provided medical aid and equipment to the country and to date has trained more than 160 Kenyan interns in different fields.

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