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Sunday, 29 August 2021

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood

El Sisi meets Qatari emir for first time since reconciliation: Improving bilateral relations and boosting cooperation between Egypt and Qatar were key talking points during a meeting yesterday between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who met in Baghdad on Saturday for the first time since the Al Ula accord this year ended an almost four year Qatari diplomatic rift with Egypt and its Gulf neighbors, Ittihadiya said in a statement. The meeting took place during a summit that was ostensibly intended to rally support for Iraq.

The meeting is the latest signal of rapprochement between Egypt and Qatar after they re-established diplomatic ties in January following their severing in 2017 over Doha’s continued support for the Ikhwan. In 2014, Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, had recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in protest of the alleged interference by Qatar in other countries' internal affairs. In a sign of improved relations, Egypt and Qatar exchanged the appointment of ambassadors in June and August.

Egypt’s president also held a one-on-one with Iraqi President Barham Salih: El Sisi and Salih sat down to discuss ways to ramp up economic cooperation and investment between Egypt and Iraq, while reviewing the status of joint projects underway in cooperation with Jordan, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The three countries had agreed to deepen security and economic cooperation during a previous summit in Baghdad last June, and agreed to work together to establish new industrial complexes, as well as power and electricity projects. El Sisi also met with Iraqi PM Moustafa Al Kadhimi and stressed the importance of accelerating the implementation of joint projects between both countries.

El Sisi’s visit appears to be within the framework of Egypt’s continued push for infrastructure diplomacy, after Egypt and Iraq signed a raft of preliminary agreements covering everything from oil and water resources to construction, housing and transportation in an “oil-for-reconstruction” agreement. The latest display of this policy — through which the government aims to get local companies to help rebuild vital infrastructure in conflict-ridden regional countries such as Iraq — was an agreement signed in June to boost digital infrastructure cooperation with Iraq.

El Sisi also met with Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah to discuss regional issues and talked cooperation and investment with French President Emmanuel Macron. El Sisi and Macron singled out transport, renewable energy and auto manufacturing as areas of mutual interest.

Egypt and Qatar aren’t the only ones trying to get along: Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Iran, which had cut diplomatic ties in 2016, met for the first time, while officials from the UAE and Turkey — which have endured a bitter relationship in recent years — were also in attendance, Bloomberg and the Financial Times reported.

And more reconciliations further afield: The UAE and Qatari ruling families met for the first time after a three-year boycott, with Qatar’s Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani receiving an Emirati delegation led by UAE’s National Security Adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Thursday, according to WAM.

IN OTHER DIPLO NEWS- Egypt is calling on Algeria, Morocco to patch things up: Foregin Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed in phone calls with his Algerian and Moroccan counterparts Friday ways to mend diplomatic relations between the two countries, after Algiers announced last week that it would be cutting off diplomatic relations with Rabat, ostensibly over Morocco’s cozying-up to Israel, according to a foreign ministry a statement.

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