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US, Egypt hold strategic dialogue in Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) speaks as Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry looks on during a US-Egypt strategic dialogue at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 8, 2021 [ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) speaks as Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry looks on during a US-Egypt strategic dialogue at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 8, 2021 [ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The US and Egypt, on Monday, held largely symbolic talks aimed at bolstering bilateral cooperation across a bevy of issues important to bilateral relations.

The dialogue is the first to be held under US President Joe Biden's administration and the first since 2015. It follows a meeting between Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, on the sidelines of September's UN General Assembly in New York.

Speaking at the State Department ahead of the meeting, Blinken said the US intends to resume the dialogue sessions more regularly, adding that Monday's session will focus on regional security amid several crises, as well as joint efforts to address climate change, COVID-19, and "making tangible, and lasting improvement on human rights," which Blinken said is "essential" to bilateral ties.

The meeting comes amid an ongoing military coup in Sudan, where civilian leaders, including Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, remain under military control, and civil conflict in Ethiopia that US officials have warned jeopardises regional stability.

READ: Egypt improving ties with US by mediating between Israel and Gaza

Also at issue is Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which has been met with stiff resistance in Cairo over concerns that it will lead to reduced water volume in the Nile River as it heads downstream to Egypt. The dam sits on the Blue Nile, one of two rivers that combine to form the Nile.

Blinken said the Biden administration continues to support a "negotiated agreement" to end the dispute, which should address the interests of all parties, including "Egypt's water needs."

Cairo, for its part, is seeking to strengthen bilateral relations, "especially in sectors of mutual interest, including trade, energy, research development, and technology, higher education, cultural exchange, and healthcare," Shoukry said.

"We recognise that, domestically, we continue to face numerous challenges that are typical of post-revolutionary societies. These are challenges that we acknowledge and are actively addressing," he said. "It is our conviction in Egypt that orderly change offers us the best chance to succeed so that society moves forward."

Shortly after Blinken and Shoukry led their delegations for closed-door talks, the State Department said the top diplomats "exchanged views on international and regional issues, human rights and pathways to increased cooperation on economic, judicial, security, education and cultural issues."

"Secretary Blinken also expressed appreciation for Egypt's role in supporting regional stability, including its continued work to de-escalate tensions in Gaza and efforts in support of UNSMIL in Libya. The Secretary underscored the US government's commitment to Egypt's water security," spokesman, Ned Price, said in a statement.

"The Secretary reaffirmed President Biden's commitment that human rights will be central to US foreign policy and welcomed the chance to discuss Egypt's human rights goals," he added.

UNSMIL is the UN's support mission in Libya.

READ: US' Blinken to meet Egyptian Foreign Minister for strategic dialogue in US capital

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