Egypt, Algeria agree to confront weapons smuggling

Egyptian Ambassador to Algeria Ezz Eddin Fahmy said the two countries have drafted an agreement to coordinate efforts against weapons smuggling from Libya into both countries.  

The ambassador told the press delegation accompanying Prime Minister Hesham Qandil in his official visit to Algeria that the Supreme Joint Egyptian-Algerian Committee would meet in Cairo early next year to discuss the draft agreement, which includes the exchange of information to combat terrorism.

The ambassador added that Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr agreed during his visit to Algeria last November to launch strategic dialogue between the two capitals and to create a ministerial follow-up committee to prepare for the Supreme Committee's meeting. The committee has not met since 2008.

Fahmy said that the Algerian prime minister's visit to Egypt would inaugurate a new era in relations between the two countries, paving the way for cooperation in trade, investment and infrastructure. The ambassador also mentioned proposed agricultural projects in which Egypt would supply Algeria with workers in exchange for land and water resources.  

Algeria also seeks to increase educational and religious missions to Al-Azhar to promote moderate Islam among Algerian preachers, Fahmy added, saying that Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has decided to increase funding for an Algerian Education Ministry scholarship program to send students to Al-Azhar for master's degrees and PhDs.

Fahmy demanded that bureaucratic obstacles facing this project be removed, pointing out that only two Algerian students were accepted to Al-Azhar last year out of 40 who applied.

Qandil began conducting talks on Sunday with Algerian Prime Minister Abdel Malek Sellal in order to promote economic ties between the two countries.

An official government source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Qandil would request US$2 billion in aid from Algeria.

The source said Qandil's visit to Algeria “aims to solve the problem of the shortage of butane in the Egyptian market, since Algeria is the largest supplier of butane to Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia."

The delegation, headed by Qandil, includes Industry and Trade Minister Hatem Saleh, Communications Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud, Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ashraf al-Araby, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal.

Edited translation from MENA

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