Remarks With Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt. As we all know, Egypt has been undergoing extraordinary challenges in these last years with the popular uprising that took place a number of years ago in Tahrir Square now famous – Egypt opted for change. The problem is there are terrorists who do not want to allow that change to take place, people who are constantly disruptive within Egypt. And so Egypt is facing major challenges – economic challenges, challenges of counterterrorism, challenges in the Sinai, challenges of the region. And Egypt is an extremely important partner in so many different ways because of the critical role it has always played in the Middle East, the role it has played as a leader in the Arab world. It is home to one-quarter of all of the Arab population. And Egypt has been important working with the United States not only in counterterrorism, but on the peace process with Israel, as well as on the regional challenges.

So we’re delighted to have Egypt’s full participation in the counter-Daesh, counter-ISIL coalition, and also on a number of other initiatives. And we look forward to working very closely to try to address the concerns that Egypt knows it faces with respect to the political space and the ability to be able to embrace people’s hopes and aspirations for the completion of their move towards the full democratic process, which they are committed to.

So it’s difficult to get there and hard to move, and we have talked very openly and very directly about the challenges that exist with respect to that political space. We also need to talk about the economic transformation that needs to take place, because Egypt needs to get its economy moving and it has big reforms and difficult reforms that they are trying to tackle in order to improve the lives of their people and get their economy moving again, attract investment, and put reforms in place at the same time.

So this is a country that knows it has challenges, but it’s working hard at trying to deal with them, and I look forward to discussing this with Minister Shoukry in the course of the morning.

Sameh.

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Thank you. Thank you, John. I’m delighted to be here in Washington once again to see Secretary Kerry and to participate in the counter-ISIL coalition. Egypt’s role in that coalition has been forthcoming and has been supportive and we recognize the challenge that ISIL and other terrorist organizations pose not only to the region but to the world, and we value the coalition and we value the cooperation that exists between Egypt and the United States. Egypt and the United States for over four decades have been relying on the strategic relationship that exists between them, and we have a parallelity of interests, whether on the Middle East or on global issues, and we continue to value highly the Egyptian-U.S. relationship and the benefits that both Egypt and the United States have extracted from that relationship.

We are in a state of transition in – and confident that the challenges that we meet both internally and in the region will be overcome by the dedication of this government to the principles that were enshrined in both the revolution of the 25th of January and the corrective revolution of the 30th of June. The very wide popular support that this government and the president has in the Egyptian people and their solidarity, I think, is the safeguard of our continuing to promote the constitutional principles of democratization, human rights, and freedoms that are the aspirations of the Egyptian people. And we will continue to work with the United States in achieving those goals and in further strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

I think our dialogue has been deep and extensive, and we continue to reach commonality of opinions on many of the issues and many of the common challenges that face us. So I’m grateful to have this opportunity to both participate in the coalition and also have this opportunity with the Secretary to discuss a very wide range of bilateral issues.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Sameh. Sir. Thank you very much.

Source: U.S. State Department.