Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy described his visit to Senegal as Egypt’s “first step” in engaging with West Africa. He also announced that Egyptian diplomacy in Southern African nations is expected to start in the coming months.
The Minister made his comments en route to West Africa where he met with his Senegalese counterpart Mankeur Ndiaye. Fahmy delivered a message of “friendship and cooperation” from interim President Adly Mansour, according to a ministry statement. The message called for Egyptian-Senegalese cooperation “within the bilateral framework or within the framework of the African Union.”
Fahmy stressed Egypt’s “keenness to strengthen cooperation with Senegal in various fields… such as agriculture, infrastructure and housing, and promote common interests through the development of trade relations.” Fahmy is also scheduled to meet with the Senegalese President Macky Sall and the President of the Senegalese National Assembly Moustapha Niasse.
Ahead of his arrival Fahmy stressed that Egypt’s diplomacy will engage with the “whole of Africa and not just the countries of East Africa and the Nile Basin.” In this regard he announced that diplomatic efforts will be launched in Southern Africa as well.
The announcement comes at a time when Egypt’s foreign policy is seeking to establish the country in a position that reflects its “Arab identity and African roots.” The ministry has embarked on an intensive diplomatic effort with African nations since the interim government assumed power in July following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. This prompted a decision by the African Union to freeze Egypt’s membership to the Peace and Security Council, a decision the ministry has rejected. In response diplomats were dispatched on a tour of Africa in July with the aim of portraying the “realities on the ground.”
Fahmy himself has visited Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi and Uganda to discuss water security and the developmental needs of the Nile Basin countries.
After the completion of his two-day visit to Senegal, Fahmy is scheduled to travel to Spain to discuss events in Egypt as well as regional issues such as the Middle East peace process and the Syrian conflict. He will also state Egypt’s position on the European Union’s decision to “suspend some areas of activity” with Egypt. Fahmy is also expected to discuss tourism issues with the blessing of Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou.