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Sunday, 20 June 2021

Shoukry talks to new Israeli FM; Abbas Kamel in Libya for talks with Dbeibeh, Haftar

IN DIPLOMACY: The dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) “is very concerning” to the US, and Washington will continue working towards a solution that Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia find acceptable, US Centcom chief Kenneth McKenzie said during an interview with Nile News (watch, runtime: 12:07) at the weekend. “We recognize the unique importance of the Nile to Egypt not only culturally but also for water supply and for the general economy overall,” McKenzie said as he visited Cairo last week to discuss US-Egypt military ties with Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed the need for to relaunch direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a call with the new Israeli FM Yair Lapid Friday, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The phone call came amid renewed tensions in Gaza and Jerusalem late last week as far-right Israelis and Palestinians clashed in the streets of the disputed city and the Israeli air force launched fresh airstrikes on targets in the enclave.

A busy two days of diplomacy in Libya: Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel was in Libya on Thursday for talks with Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and eastern general Khalifa Haftar, Al Arabiya reports. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also received in Cairo his Libyan counterpart Najla Mangoush on Friday to discuss bilateral relations, and preparations for national elections later this year. The two FMs also held a joint press conference later that day, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez tweeted.

Mending fences? The uneasy relationship between Dbeibeh — who since February has served as the country’s interim prime minister ahead of elections later this year — and Haftar — Tripoli’s main rival in the country’s recent civil war — were hinted at in April, after the PM had to cancel a visit to the eastern city of Benghazi when his security team were sent back from the airport.

Also worth noting:

  • The Biden administration is trimming its military presence in the Middle East, withdrawing eight missile batteries, some fighter jet squadrons, and hundreds of troops as it repositions forces to serve as deterrents to China and Russia, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Qatar thinks the 2022 World Cup will contribute some USD 20 bn to its economy, roughly 11% of the country’s 2019 GDP, officials told Bloomberg.

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