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Update: British parliamentarians meet Al-Sisi, the Pope, among other top officials

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Top Egyptian officials discuss developments inside Egypt and regional ones with the British delegation

Defence Minister Abdelfattah Al-Sisi with the delegation of British parliamentarians on Sunday  (Photo Military spokesman handout )

Defence Minister Abdelfattah Al-Sisi with the delegation of British parliamentarians on Sunday
(Photo Military spokesman handout )

Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with a delegation of British parliamentarians on Sunday, in what was one of several meetings the delegation held with top Egyptian officials and figures.

Egypt’s transitional phase and regional developments were discussed in the meeting which was attended by several military leaders including Chief of Staff Sedky Sobhy.

The military spokesman said in a statement that the delegation expressed pleasure at the “success of the Egyptian people” in implementing the first step of the roadmap through the constitutional referendum held on 14 and 15 January.

The delegation also met with Pople Tawadros II on Sunday and the Pope explained the nature of the events in Egypt. State-run Al-Ahram cited the Pope as describing the events of 30 June as a revolution, not a coup.

Former presidential candidate and former chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Amr Moussa, also held talks with the delegation on Sunday, discussing issues related to both the 2014 Constitution and the roadmap.

Moussa’s office said the delegation expressed understanding of the challenges Egypt faces and expressed the importance of protecting rights and freedoms, in accordance to the constitution.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi told the delegation on Saturday that the Egyptian “people are the guarantor of their freedom”, responding to a British parliamentarians’ fears on freedom of expression in Egypt, in a meeting with the parliamentarians, on Saturday.

The delegation, which arrived on Saturday, also met with interim President Adly Mansour and interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy to discuss regional developments with the latter. El-Beblawi discussed with the parliamentarians the challenges that Egypt faces, including “fighting terrorism and extremism”, a statement posted by the cabinet said.

The prime minister said that the media – particularly the foreign media – tends to focus too much on arrests during protests, while largely ignoring “terrorist incidents,” such as the targeting of soldiers in Sinai and nationwide bombings.

He added “everyone who gets arrested in protests that resort to violence is immediately interrogated by judicial bodies and whoever is proven to have no involvement in the violence is immediately released.” Mansour received the parliamentarians after El-Beblawi’s meeting. He explained the executive steps being taken to crystallise the roadmap, which began with adopting the 2014 Constitution. He added that the next step will be presidential elections, followed by parliamentary elections.

Mansour expressed surprise at reports of a return of military rule, presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi was cited by state-run Al-Ahram as saying. Mansour said he does not know if these reports are a result of ignorance of the facts or deliberate attempts to cover up the facts. He added that the state is being run by a civilian government.

The interim president expressed optimism about the country’s economic future, stating that what Egypt sustained for the past three years is enough to undermine the economy of any country but “we did not lose our basic economic resources.”

El-Beblawi also addressed the government’s economic programme, saying that positive steps include the improvement in Egypt’s credit rating and the strong performance at the stock exchange.  Fitch Ratings agency also upgraded Egypt’s economic outlook from negative to stable on 3 January for the first time since 2011.

The delegation met with Fahmy on Saturday morning, discussing regional issues, in a meeting attended by the British Ambassador to Egypt, James Watt.

They discussed Egypt’s border security with Libya and all efforts being made to end the smuggling of weapons across the border, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty.

He added that they discussed the developments in Syria, the dangers of dividing Syria and the importance of the recently held Geneva II conference in reaching a political solution to the crisis.

The two sides also discussed the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis who agreed to come to the negotiation table in July, following US diplomatic efforts.

Fahmy stressed the importance of achieving security and stability in the Middle East.

The delegation includes four Members of the British Upper House of parliament, the House of Lords including Conservative Party representatives Lord Marlesford and Baroness Berridge. It also includes four members from the House of Commons, the Lower House of parliament, including Democratic Unionist Jeffrey M. Donaldson, Labour representative Stephen Timms and Conservative representative Tim Yeo.

An organiser for the delegation did not respond for comment in time for print.


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