Egypt is to offer one thousand military-training scholarships to African nations, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Thursday during a conference of defense ministers from the Community of Sahel-Saharan States.
Sisi made the announcement during a meeting with senior delegates to the conference, which opened in Sharm el-Sheikh two days ago and concludes on Friday.
The event is being attended by the defense ministers of several nations in the Sahel and Saharan regions, including Egypt's Defense Minister Sidqi Sobhy.
The event provides an opportunity for nations to discuss security developments and co-operation in the region, which faces a variety of security and terrorist threats.
According to a ministry statement, Sisi said that Egypt's Defense Ministry will provide one thousand scholarships to African countries, allowing them to study at Egyptian military colleges and institutes.
The offer is aimed at enhancing co-operation with countries of the Sahel-Saharan community, as part of Egypt's overall policy of improving relations with African nations, said Sisi.
He emphasized the special importance of the conference in light of security threats in the region and world, including recent attacks in Europe, expressing condolences to the families those killed and injured in Tuesday's attacks in Brussels.
The attacks confirmed the importance of concerted efforts by the international community to eradicate all terrorist organizations and prevent the dissemination of extremist ideas, he added.
The president also stressed the need for political solutions to conflicts on the African continent in order to achieve development.
The participating defense ministers confirmed their keenness to promote regional cooperation through the community in order to meet common challenges, particularly the threat of terrorism, according to a ministry statement.
Ibrahim Sani Abani, secretary general of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, praised the attendance of Sobhy at the conference, saying the Egyptian minister's presence is very important.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Abani said that the conference was being held in Sharm el-Sheikh due to ongoing security issues in Libya, pointing out that the meeting aimed at re-activating cooperation between the community states.
He said the conference could help meet such challenges as human trafficking and the emergence of various terrorist groups, such as Islamic State and Boko Haram, which cross national boundaries and therefore require collaboration between different nations.
The UN Charter allows states to defend their borders and to form regional organizations for the same purpose, said Abani, pointing out that African countries should take the initiative to defend themselves against terrorism, rather than relying too much on the UN Security Council.
"The secretariat of the community is preoccupied by what is happening in Chad and Somalia, and our role is to protect them," he said. "It is necessary to get involved in this matter and to salute the contributions of the secretary general of the United Nations and the special envoy of the Sahel area and Libya."
Abani stressed the need for African nations to co-ordinate efforts in order to deal with security matters.
"The military and police forces of the Sahel-Saharan community should be able to move easily across all the various borders of member states to carry out security and stability tasks," he said.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm