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Blinken, Shoukry Discuss Cooperation, Regional Issues

Blinken, Shoukry Discuss Cooperation, Regional Issues

Thursday, 25 February, 2021 - 08:15
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Reuters)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed on Wednesday the strong strategic partnership between both countries, in addition to a number of issues of common concern.

This came during the first phone call between the two officials since US President Joe Biden took office.

"The Secretary and the Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of the strong strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, particularly in security and ongoing counterterrorism cooperation, and exchanged views on regional issues," State Department said in a statement.

Blinken also raised "concerns" over human rights situation in Egypt, which he emphasized would be central to the US-Egypt bilateral relationship.

According to the statement, he also raised the issue of Egypt’s potential procurement of Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia.

Blinken and Shoukry further discussed supporting UN-facilitated peace negotiations in Libya, the Middle East Peace Process, and counterterrorism cooperation in the Sinai.

Earlier, a report by Russia Today claimed that Egypt has concluded a deal to buy Russian Su-35s jets, however, Cairo and Moscow made no statements in this regard.

R. Clarke Cooper, the State Department’s assistant secretary in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, warned Egypt in Nov. 2019 that if it purchases Russian fighter jets it risks American sanctions.

Cooper said the planned purchase of Russian jets puts Egypt “at risk of sanctions and it puts them at risk of loss of future acquisition.”

For his part, the Director of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Dr. Gamal Abdel Gawad said he believes the US administration will handle the military and human rights matters separately.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat following the call between Blinken and Shoukry, Abdel Gawad affirmed that Egypt's ties to the US are linked through contacts between the Egyptian foreign ministry and the State Department.

"But mainly, Cairo's more stable relations with Washington are based on military cooperation between the two states," he added.

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