President Abdel Fattah El Sisi fielded questions and addressed some of the mostpressing topics facing Egypt and the region during the Meet the Press segment of the World Youth Forum on Wednesday.
El Sisi spoke on the issue of his reelection, saying he would not consider a second term until after he delivers in a few months’ time his annual state-of-the-union type address on his accomplishments in office, Al Shorouk reports. The public’s reaction to this address will determine whether he will announce his candidacy for the 2018 elections, which he had said earlier in the week would take place in March or April.
On the economy, El Sisi noted that inflation is easing but we are still an economy reeling from four years of instability, according to AMAY. He did express confidence that the EGP will appreciate in the coming period as the economy grows, Reuters reports.
There is no relation between signing the USD 30 bn Dabaa nuclear power plants contracts and restoring flights with Russia, El Sisi said. He stated that he understood Russian reservations when it came to restoring flights, adding that he has not and will not insist Russia put the airplanes back in the sky to Egypt, Youm7 reports.
(Speaking of which, Egypt and Russia will ink the final contracts for Dabaa in December, with El Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin attending the ceremony, an Electricity Ministry source tells Youm7.)
El Sisi also revealed that Egypt was planning to launch an international news channel, probably to provide a competing narrative to Ikhwani-loving channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Shorouk reports.
El Sisi backs anti-corruption arrests in Saudi Arabia: International media coverage of the session was more focused on regional issues, particularly with Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. El Sisi said that conditions in Saudi are stable and reassuring, while expressing confidence in the Saudi leadership, Youm7 reports. “What’s happening there is an internal matter which could happen in any country,” he added.
As for regional rivals Iran, El Sisi said that the country should must stop "meddling" in the Middle East and the security of Arab Gulf countries must not be threatened. “Gulf security is a red line for us and others should not interfere in their affairs,” he said. "The region has enough instability and challenges as it is. We don’t need any new complications involving Iran or Hezbollah so we don’t add new challenges to the region," he added when speaking on a possible response, according to the Associated Press.
And on Libya, El Sisi said that Egypt’s support for East Libya commander Khalifa Haftar does not mean Egypt is opposed to the UN-backed government, Reuters report.
Also worth noting from the forum: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry delved into Egypt’s role in rebuilding state institutions in countries emerging from conflict, according to a ministry statement. Egypt has offered technical and financial assistance to Arab and African countries through the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development and the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding, in addition to contributing to UN peacekeeping forces, according to Shoukry. Both the state and the private sector have not shied away from publically announcing their intentions to help rebuild Syria. The governments of Egypt and Iraq had also previously signed a number of agreements which would see Egypt help rebuild key and vital economic sectors. We anticipate this to be a major foreign policy push in the coming year.