UK Prime Minister David Cameron hosted Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at Downing Street on Monday to discuss the threat of international terrorism and the Egyptian economy.
Cameron expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people and government for the deadly attacks in North Sinai, which claimed the lives of 30 soldiers.
Shoukry stressed to Cameron the “international community’s concerted efforts to combat the phenomenon of terrorism”, adding that it is a global issue, according to a Tuesday foreign ministry statement.
Shoukry also emphasised the importance of British participation in next February’s economic conference aimed to “encourage foreign investment in Egypt”. Shoukry added that he desires to “build on the positive climate that prevails in relations between the two countries”.
The meeting came as part of Shoukry’s two day visit to London, where he met with officials including UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, envoy for Libya Jonathan Powell, Minister of State for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood, shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander and leaders of the British business community.
Shoukry’s meeting with Hammond also addressed the issue of international terrorism. Following the meeting, Hammond said: “The UK and Egypt have strong shared interests in defeating terrorism and supporting stability in the region.”
The two diplomats “agreed on the need for close partnership on countering terrorism, including to defeat and degrade ISIL and the threat it poses in the region,” said Hammond, using one of the various acronyms for the extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham. The pair also discussed the situation in Libya and developments in the Middle East Peace Process.
Hammond expressed the UK’s support for Egypt’s democratic transition and discussed the “need to protect the rights contained within Egypt’s new constitution, particularly freedom of the press”. He expressed concerns over the “prosecution of Egyptian and international journalists, including two British nationals”.
Sue Turton and Dominic Kane were sentenced in absentia to 10 years each in prison in June as part of the infamous Al Jazeera trial, which saw three of the Qatar-based media agency imprisoned for 7-10 years.
Britain summoned the Egyptian ambassador at the time of the sentencing.
Hammond also discussed Egypt’s legal system, stressing that it must “protect the right to demonstrate peacefully and safeguard space for civil society work in order to fulfil the Government of Egypt’s stated commitment to inclusive governance”.
Shoukry also “assured” Hammond of the “progress” regarding holding parliamentary elections in Egypt, which the British minister said would mark “an important step in Egypt’s roadmap to restore democracy”. The elections are expected to happen in the coming months but no official date has been set.