Foreign Ministry spokesperson Badr Abdelatty said Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy’s visit to New York created a chance for intense activity.
Fahmy took part in 17 regional and international meetings, including meetings on nuclear disarmament and had 49 bilateral talks with heads of states, prime ministers and foreign ministers.
Fahmy left for New York along with a delegation to represent Egypt in the 68th ordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Fahmy discussed the three axes of Egyptian foreign policy as well as regional and international issues during the trip.
One axis is garnering political and economic support for the “30 June Revolution.” Abdelatty said the Egyptian side is focusing on the future rather than defending the “revolution” and explaining the reasons behind it. Public opinion on a local and international level regarding the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi has been split, with his supporters calling it a coup and the state and his opponents calling it a revolution.
After Morsi’ removal, the Foreign Ministry dispatched special envoys and had its diplomats talk to officials all over the world about how Morsi’s removal was a result of a revolution.
During the UNGA trip, the foreign minister said there are two tracks Egypt is focusing on right now, one is the security aspect and fighting “terrorism” and the other is the following the roadmap. In his address on Saturday to the UNGA, Fahmy announced that Egypt’s transitional phase will end by spring 2014. He also said the massive protests against Morsi on 30 June show that “the will of the people cannot be broken.”
Fahmy also tried to attract foreign investment and encourage tourism by calling on countries to lift their travel warnings for Egypt.
Another axis of Egypt’s foreign policy during the trip was the focus on Egypt regaining its regional role. Abdelatty said that Egypt’s ties with Africa and water security were two main issues the foreign ministry focused on. Fahmy met with the Ethiopian and Sudanese foreign ministers.
Egypt and Sudan on the one hand, and Ethiopia on the other, have been caught in a tense triangle for the past few months because the downstream countries fear that Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will decrease their share of Nile water. Egypt and Sudan receive the lion’s share as per agreements in 1929 and 1959, agreements which Ethiopia was never a part of. The three countries agreed in June on holding tripartite technical talks, which have not happened yet.
Fahmy also met with his Eritrean and South Sudanese counterparts. He said that Egypt is creating an agency for establishing partnerships that will mainly focus on development in Africa.
Palestine and Syria were also on the minister’s agenda. Fahmy met with Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Mahmoud Abbas and discussed the Palestinian issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Fahmy also participated in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Contact Group on Palestine. Fahmy reiterated Egypt’s views on the Palestinian issue: that the negotiations are serious and lead to the formation of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Regarding Syria, Fahmy expressed the importance of respecting “international legitimacy.”
The third axis was on several international issues, including climate change, the need to reform the UN, fighting terrorism and the need to clear the Middle East, including Israel, of weapons of mass destruction.