Fahmy and EU’s Ashton discuss bilateral relations

Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on Wednesday discussed a range of issues facing Egypt with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, her third visit to the country since the army-sponsored overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsy in July.

According to a statement distributed by the Foreign Ministry after the meeting, Fahmy and Ashton discussed bilateral relations between Egypt and the EU, particularly the EU's assistance to Egypt, trade, ways to attract investments and recommendations proposed by the joint Egypt-EU Task Force which took place in November 2012.

The leading diplomats did not give statements to the press after the meeting.

The Foreign Ministry statement did not discuss if Ashton tackled Egypt's roadmap during talks.

Badr Abdel Aaty, official spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said the meeting also dealt with the Nile Basin Initiative, the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the need to reach a settlement that will not encroach on Egypt's Nile water share.

Fahmy and Ashton also discussed regional issues including the Syrian conflict and preparations for the Geneva II Conference.

The meeting also discussed the development of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the continued building of Israeli settlements and repeated Israeli raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Fahmy also highlighted the need to agree on an international mechanism to ensure that the basic needs of Palestinians in Gaza are met.

Ashton reportedly emphasized that the EU will continue to restrict the entry of products made by Israeli settlements into EU markets.

Fahmy highlighted that Egypt is concerned about the postponement of the 2012 conference on clearing the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, as well chemical and biological weapons, and the need to hold this meeting before the end of this year or by the coming spring.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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