Al-Sisi Receives China’s Xi Jinping in Cairo
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi received Chinese President Xi Jinping in Cairo on Thursday before a scheduled visit at Egypt’s House of Representatives. Xi arrived in Egypt after his visit to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdelaziz, other Saudi dignitaries and GCC representatives.
China and Egypt will be signing bilateral cooperation agreements worth $10 billion. Agreements include the establishment of a group of projects in Suez Canal Region besides cooperation deals with the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation, reports The Cairo Post.
President Xi Jinping stated on Wednesday that the Chinese government encourages and supports qualified enterprises to participate in large-scale projects in Egypt. Xi commented on his visit, saying:
“My visit to Egypt is to cement and deepen the China-Egypt relationship in an all-round way and advance practical cooperation between our two nations for new achievement. … China and Egypt are true friends and good brothers. … “China stands ready to boost cooperation with Egypt in infrastructure construction and continue pushing ahead industrial capacity cooperation,”
China plans to incorporate its comprehensive cooperation with Egypt in its Belt and Road Initiative which is part of China’s New Silk Road Project. The Silk Road Project was launched in 2013. In 2014 China and Egypt signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement. The Chinese President noted that China-Egypt relations face unprecedented opportunities and broad prospect. Xi Jinping proposed that the two sides make more efforts to link up their development strategies and step up cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to turn their consensus into concrete results as soon as possible.
Before embarking on his visit to the Middle East, Xi Jinping stressed that part of his tour aims at defusing tensions in the region. These include both the wars in Syria and Iraq, the war in Yemen, as well as tensions between Saudi Arabia, other GCC member Sates and Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran is an important partner in the Silk Road project.
An open conflict between Iran and Gulf Arab States would endanger shipping via the Hormuz Strait. China receives the largest share of its imported oil from Saudi Arabia while China is Iran’s primary oil client. Egypt, for its part, has gained strategic importance due to the expansion of the Suez Canal and the creation of economic zones along the canal.
Egypt reluctantly participates in the Saudi led alliance against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Cairo’s primary objective is to secure that shipping via the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait is not threatened by the conflict of forces hostile to Egypt. The Strait is located at the southern end of the Suez Canal. Xi’s visit to Cairo and the region is, on other words, not merely focused on business and strategic partnerships. Xi Jinping’s visit also aims at defusing the tense atmosphere in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
CH/L – nsnbc 21.01.2016