Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (R) meets with the visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Cairo, Egypt on March 2, 2017. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in Cairo on Thursday, discussing various issues including illegal migration, terrorism and the latest developments in Libya and Syria. (Xinhua/MENA)
CAIRO, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in Cairo on Thursday, discussing various issues including illegal migration, terrorism and the latest developments in Libya and Syria.
In a joint press conference after the meeting, Sisi praised the development of the Egyptian-German relations in various fields and the participation of German firms in mega development projects in the Arab country.
"During the talks, I also updated the chancellor with the measures taken by Egypt over the past three years to achieve political stability and economic development," Sisi told reporters, commending German support for Egypt's economic reform program and for the loan deal between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Suffering economic slowdown over the past few years due to political turmoil and relevant security issues, Egypt started a three-year strict economic reform program including austerity measures, energy subsidy cuts and a floating exchange rate encouraged by a 12 billion U.S. dollars loan from the IMF, whose first batch of 2.75 billion dollars was handed to Egypt earlier in November 2016.
Sisi also warned that growing terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East region affect Europe and the whole world, urging collective efforts to obliterate terror groups and reach political solutions in chaos-stricken regional states including Libya and Syria.
"It is crystal clear that the current regional conditions in the Middle East cast their shadow on the security and stability of Europe and the whole world," said the Egyptian president.
Sisi and Merkel witnessed a video conference of the opening ceremony of three massive power plants in the most populous Arab country designed and carried out by Germany's Siemens Corporation.
For her part, Merkel expressed appreciation for German-Egyptian long term and strong ties, noting her country is one of Egypt's major trade and investment partners.
The German chancellor hailed the participation of Siemens in such large national projects in Egypt that would provide electricity to some 45 million people, almost half the population.
Merkel also praised Egypt's work on hosting Libyan rival parties for a peaceful settlement, noting that it requires further cooperation and coordination with the international community and that Germany is playing an indirect role with the effort of outgoing German UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler.
She expressed support for Egypt's host of about 500,000 Syrian refugees, agreeing with the Egyptian position that seeks a political solution for the Syrian crisis.
Merkel also commended the efforts made by Egypt to limit illegal migration from its sea shores to Europe, the last attempt of which drowned about 200 people in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2016.
Merkel stressed the necessity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for Egypt's development, saying the talks reached an agreement on their legal situation and Egypt promised to allow such German and other groups whose work had been suspended.
She also pledged to assist Egypt's IMF-sponsored economic reform program with half a billion dollars in two years.
Merkel then left to pay a visit to Egypt's Orthodox Church in Cairo and placed a wreath of flowers at an adjacent small church where a suicide bomb attack in December 2016 killed 29 of its worshippers, mostly women and children.
Egypt's Al-Azhar top Islamic institution was the final destination of Merkel's visit where she met with its chief, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyib, and emphasized Al-Azhar's role in spreading moderate Islam and combating misleading and extremist Islamic ideologies.
The German chancellor is scheduled to visit Tunisia on Friday and illegal migration to Europe is also expected to be a major part of her talks.