"Loyal patriots in Lebanon, regardless of their positions, should stand together and distance their homeland from disputes and regional conflicts," Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told an international online conference held on Sunday to discuss aid for Lebanon. El-Sisi called for concentrating efforts on strengthening Lebanon s state institutions, according to a presidential statement released following the conference. He urged implementing economic reforms, which he described as inevitable, in order to gain the trust of international financial institutions and global support, which would help Lebanon achieve stability and development. The conference was co-hosted by the United Nations and French President Emmanuel Macron, and attended by many world leaders including US President Donald Trump, with the aim of bringing donors together to support the Lebanese people after a massive blast devastated parts of their capital on Tuesday. The explosion killed more than 150 people, including three Egyptians, and left thousands of others injured and homeless. Many Lebanese took to the streets while others stormed government ministries in protest of what they described as the incompetence and corruption of the political elite. Lebanese officials said the explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port for six years after being confiscated from a ship. Countries around the world have rallied to offer support to Lebanon, providing aid packages, rescue and medical teams and humanitarian aid. The Egyptian president expressed his appreciation for the French president s initiative in holding the conference, calling upon the international community to exert all possible efforts to assist Beirut to get up anew, overcome the blast s consequences, and reconstruct what was destroyed. Egypt has taken several steps to provide assistance to Lebanon, including opening an air bridge of medical supplies and other aid to support the country. An Egyptian field hospital in Beirut is also providing aid to victims of the blast. "Egypt is ready to provide more medical and relief aid in this respect and to harness its capabilities to help the brothers in Lebanon in the efforts to reconstruct the affected areas," El-Sisi said at the conference.
Egypt and Greece have signed a maritime demarcation deal establishing an exclusive economic zone between the two countries, Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a joint televised press conference on Thursday. Shoukry received his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Cairo earlier on Thursday to discuss means to strengthen bilateral relations and coordination between the two countries in the East Mediterranean region. Shoukry said at the conference that the provisions of the deal are in line with international law and the United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea. The deal targets tapping into the capabilities available in the Eastern Mediterranean region, he added. "The deal permits Egypt and Greece to go ahead with maximising benefits from riches available in the exclusive economic zones of both countries, particularly the promising gas and oil reserves," he stressed. Shoukry pointed out the new agreement paves the way for more regional cooperation between the Egyptian and Greek sides in the field of energy, given the membership of the two countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum. The forum’s members include Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. The forum was established in January 2019 to "create a regional gas market, optimise resource development, cut the cost of infrastructure, offer competitive prices, and improve trade ties,” Egypt s petroleum ministry earlier said. Shoukry added that “the friendly relationship between Egypt and Greece is a key pillar to preserving the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and countering the threats stemming from irresponsible policies that support extremism and terrorism.” Historical deal Dendias said the deal is "historical" and that it materialised following long rounds of negotiations, adding that the agreement ensures cooperation between both countries. The process of negotiating exclusive economic zones (EEZ) between Egypt and Greece was launched over three years ago during a visit by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Athens, where he and then Greek prime minister Alexi Tsipras agreed that to help each country benefit from the possible resources of its national waters an agreement needed to be signed. According to Nikoaos Garilidis, the Greek ambassador to Cairo, over 13 rounds of negotiations have been held between Cairo and Athens over the past three years. The Egyptian-Greek deal was inked in accordance with the law of the sea and respects all neighbouring relations. “The deal Is the exact opposite of any other illegitimate thing like what was signed between Turkey and Tripoli. That deal was baseless," he added. In November 2019, Turkey and the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Al-Sarraj inked a memorandum of understanding on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. Five countries including Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus called on the United Nations not to register the maritime boundaries deal, describing it as "illegal", particularly after the Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, in his letter to the UN, rejected the agreement.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered Egyptian authorities to dispatch two airplanes loaded with medical aid to Beirut as soon as possible, according to satellite channel Extra News. A massive warehouse explosion in the port of Beirut on Tuesday killed at least 100 people and injured nearly 4,000. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday expressed Egypt s condolences to the families of the victims, as well as his wishes for the speedy recovery of those injured in the explosion. The ministry said in a statement earlier today that the Egyptian Field Hospital in Lebanon has begun treating those injured in the Beirut port explosion. It added that the hospital is ready to provide all possible assistance. The statement added that the Foreign Ministry has contacted the Lebanese authorities to learn about their needs, in order to be able to discuss how to provide them. Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Yasser Elwy visited the hospital on Wednesday to check on how it was dealing with those injured in the explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday.
Egypt slammed Ethiopia s unilateral initial filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Monday during the second round of African Union (AU)-brokered talks. Egypt criticised the Ethiopian action that was taken without consultation or agreement with downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Water and Irrigation said. Ethiopia s initial filling of the dam "bears negative implications that show Ethiopia doesn t want to reach a fair agreement," said Mohamed Abdel-Atti, the Egyptian minister of water and irrigation. The Ethiopian action "violates the Declaration of Principles" signed in 2015, Abdel-Atti stated. Monday s trilateral meeting was conducted via video-conference in the attendance of observers and experts from the United States, EU Commission and AU Commission. Abdel-Atti urged the need to seal an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam to reach consensus on other controversial issues. He referred to Egypt s suggestion concerning the working mechanism of the talks held for two weeks, stressing that based on the 21 July AU mini-summit -- held via video-conference between the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia as well as the president of South Africa, the current chair of the African Union -- the current negotiations will focus on filling and operating the GERD and that talks over future projects will follow after reaching agreement over the mega-dam. Sudan stresses trilateral accord; Ethiopia repeats stance During the meeting, Sudan urged the necessity of signing a trilateral agreement that safeguards its Roseires Dam on the Blue Nile and ensures the smooth exchange of information in accordance with international law, the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation explained in a statement on Monday. Sudan also criticized the unilateral filling of the dam by describing the move as one that "raised concerns in case of reoccurrence in the future and specifically over environmental and societal impact of the dam on farmers on the Blue Nile." Meanwhile, Ethiopia "reiterated its commitment to expeditiously finalize talks with a win-win outcome," a statement by the Ethiopian water, irrigation and energy ministry read on Monday night. Ethiopia’s water, irrigation and energy minister, Seleshi Bekeli, "underscored the resolve of the Heads of Government of the three countries to reach a ‘speedy agreement on the first filling in short term and comprehensive agreement addressing the outstanding issues on the GERD negotiation." The statement did not address Cairo and Khartoum’s objections over the ‘unilateral’ dam filling and other outstanding issues. At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that the technical and legal committees will hold meetings to discuss points of contention on 4-5 August before presenting their conclusion at a ministerial meeting slated for 6 August. AU-sponsored negotiations Monday s round of AU-sponsored talks came two weeks after the announcement by Addis Ababa that the initial filling of the dam’s reservoir had already taken place. The first round of AU-sponsored talks over the project ended two weeks ago without reaching an accord. The leaders of the three countries agreed in a mini-summit held later on the need for continued discussions over the filling and operation of the dam. Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly expressed their concerns over Ethiopia s unilateral initial filling of the dam during the first meeting of the second round of talks mediated by the AU over the disputed dam. Egypt said it agreed with Sudan and Ethiopia on the need to priortize reaching a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the mega-dam, and the AU called on the three countries to "work expeditiously to finalise the text of a binding agreement." However, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said at a press conference in Addis Ababa two weeks ago that Ethiopia wants a guiding agreement on the GERD that is non-binding. Egypt has voiced concern over Ethiopia s refusal to agree on rules regulating the filling and operation of the GERD during drought and dry years. Cairo is also concerned about future projects on the Blue Nile, a main tributary of the Nile, and demands binding dispute settlement mechanisms, which Addis Ababa has refused to include in a deal. Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 95 percent of its fresh water, fears the dam will significantly reduce the river’s flow, especially during the filling stages through periods of drought and dry years. Ethiopia, on the other hand, says the project is key to its development.
Egypt detected 167 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, reporting a total infection tally of 94,483 since the outbreak in mid-February, the health ministry announced. The ministry also reported 31 new deaths, bringing the total deaths from the virus to 4,865. The statement said that 1,318 patients have been discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 42,455 Despite the recent lifting of lockdown measures, Egypt has been seeing a significant drop in its daily detected coronavirus cases, with the country s daily record — 1,774 infections recorded on 19 June — unbroken to date.
A seismic survey that is planned by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean represents a “violation and attack on sovereign rights,” a statement by the foreign ministry said, further escalating tensions between the two countries. In an official statement on Saturday, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said that Egypt objects to a seismic survey carried out by Turkey from 21 July to 2 August, saying it overlaps with Egypt’s exclusive economic zone. Hafez said the encroachment violates the UN convention on the Law of the Sea and international law. The statement added that Egypt does not recognise any outcomes or implications that may entail from Turkey’s activity in the area of overlap. Turkey’s announcement of the planned survey has stirred a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over drilling rights, with Athens stressing it will do “whatever is necessary” to defend its sovereign rights in response to Ankara’s planned move. Turkey said it could pause the oil-and-gas research mission pending talks. Egypt, a close ally to Greece and Cyprus, has had strained relations with Turkey since the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s late Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, a close ally of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Relations further deteriorated recently over Turkey’s intervention in Libya and a signalled military intervention by Egypt in the war-torn country.
Corrections of this year’s high school (Thanaweya Amma) exams have officially concluded, and the final results will be announced on 6 August, head of the high school exams department and Deputy Education Minister Reda Hegazy said on Tuesday. Hegazy said that this year’s general pass rate in high school exams has surpassed last year’s rate of 78 percent. More than 650,000 Egyptian students took the high school final exams nationwide from 21 June till 21 July amid heightened precautionary measures to rein in the spread of the coronavirus. Thanaweya Amma exams were postponed for two weeks over the coronavirus outbreak. The Egyptian Doctors Syndicate, as well as many parents, had called for postponing the exams until the country saw a reduction in the virus infection rate. Others called for replacing the exams with an online research system adopted for other school grades. The education minister, however, insisted that the major exams could not be postponed further, asserting that authorities were taking necessary precautions and offering students the option to delay the exams to the next school year. Every year, more than 600,000 Thanaweya Amma students must take highly competitive exams in a number of subjects at the end of their final year of high school. The grades determine what universities and faculties students may attend. Egypt had suspended school and university classes since March as part of sweeping anti-coronavirus measures, and introduced a new research paper system as an alternative to the final exams in most other school grades.
Egypt may resort to adopting the strict preventative measures it had earlier imposed to fight the coronavirus, including reclosing activities, if infections rise once more, Egypt s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said at a televised press briefing on Wednesday. Egypt has moved towards a gradual reopening of its economy since June, lifting some of the contagion’s restrictions as part of a plan to coexist with the virus. The country has been recording less than 1,000 coronavirus cases per day since 9 July. Madbouly attributed the low daily infections and deaths tally to the public s awareness. The prime minister urged the Egyptians to continue to adhere to all precautions, including preserving social distancing and wearing face masks in crowded places to help the country to keep the daily infection tally low and to prevent a possible resurgence. During the briefing, Madbouly said the resurgence in some countries is "due to the lack of awareness and non-compliance with the preventative measures.” "If the country s coronavirus cases resurge, the government will be forced to [resort to] the strict measures that we were suffering from," he stressed. Until Tuesday, Egypt has had a total of 92,947 coronavirus cases, including 4,691 fatalities and 35,959 recoveries. The prime minister added that the total number of patients who are on ventilator devices is not more than 80 nationwide. He added that the cabinet decided to impose some restrictions during Eid Al-Adha s four-day holiday similar to those previously imposed during Eid Al-Fitr, including keeping the public gardens and beaches closed to prevent possible gatherings. The religious occasion will take place from Friday through Monday. Madbouly added that the country has managed to improve its economic indicators during 2019/2020 despite the pandemic s challenges. "We have not achieved the state s goals set prior to the pandemic but the economy is still developing… and that gives the government confidence in its previous tendency regarding balancing out the production wheel and the coronavirus precautions," he added. "However, if the coronavirus cases increase once more the government will have to reclose many activities and that would affect our job opportunities and economic indicators," Madbouly stressed.
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi inaugurated on Tuesday the first stage of a new industrial complex built by the Egyptian National Company for Industrial Development in Sharqiya governorate s 10th of Ramadan City. According to a statement by the Egyptian presidency, El-Sisi inaugurated a cotton textile complex comprised of six factories in Robeiki industrial city. The inauguration event was attended by Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The Egyptian National Company for Industrial Development is part of the Egyptian Armed Forces National Public Service Projects Organisation. The new complex aims at exploiting the full value of Egyptian cotton and to avoid exporting it in raw form. According to the CEO of the Egyptian National Company for Industrial Development Lt. General Kamel Helal, the complex was built in nearly 30 months over 429 feddans. “The project will provide in its first stage 1,350 direct job opportunities and 12,000 indirect job opportunities,” Helal told reporters earlier on Tuesday before the inauguration. He also added that Egypt was going to have a “big and important revival” in the textile and weaving industry in the upcoming period, and that the project is part of the Egyptian administration’s plan to revive the Egyptian cotton industry. As part of the inauguration ceremony, the president watched a short film titled "The Threads of Hope." The film documents the story of the building of the industrial complex in Robeiki, which is considered the first smart industrial city in the country. Lt. General Ihab El-Far, the head of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority, explained that 26 Egyptian companies and three consulting firms participated in the construction of Robeiki complex. He added that 44,000 workers and 1100 engineers and technicians built the complex. He also explained that work on 13 industrial complexes across the nation has been completed with work on three more underway. El-Sisi said that the government has embarked on the execution of an ambitious plan to develop the country s textile industry, which involves replacement of factories over two years.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said that Cairo “will not accept any violations of the designated red lines” of Sirte and Al-Jufra in Libya, and that the country will defend its national security and interests. The FM made the comments during a joint press conference with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Cairo on Monday. Shoukry said that there is an Egyptian-Saudi consensus on combating foreign intervention in the region, especially in Libya. He said there are directives from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to intensify bilateral cooperation between the two countries to achieve the aspirations and interests of both nations. “The directives also include dealing with all issues in the Arab world, especially in restoring peace and stability. We are all responsible for the security and stability of the Arab region, and we don’t want to see our destinies squandered by the ambitions of non-Arab states,” he said. The Saudi foreign minister said the Kingdom supports the Cairo Declaration on Libya and the necessity of safeguarding Libya from foreign interventions. “We will remain one hand to achieve security and stability in the region,” he said, affirming that there is a full consensus between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on regional issues. The meeting is part of intensive efforts between Egypt and its regional and international partners to discuss ongoing developments in Libya. El-Sisi said earlier this month that Egypt will send troops into Libya if the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which is backed by Turkey and Syrian mercenaries, tried to seize Sirte, which is located around 900 kilometres from the Egyptian border. The strategic city, a key gateway to Libya s vital oil fields and facilities, is held by rival forces of military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), which is supported by Egypt, the UAE and Russia. Last week, the Egyptian parliament unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces abroad to defend Egypt’s national security. Late last month, the Libyan parliament passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish "occupation". Last week, Libya s tribal leaders mandated President El-Sisi and Egypt s Armed Forces to intervene to protect the sovereignty of Libya and to take the necessary measures to secure the national security interests of both countries.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reaffirmed the state s rejection of any unilateral action that may compromise Egypt’s right to Nile water. El-Sisi made the statement during a phone call with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday as the two heads of state discussed the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). According to Presidency Spokesman Bassam Rady, El-Sisi said Egypt insists on the formulation of a full-fledged legal agreement between the concerned parties regarding the rules of filling and operation of the dam. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been engaged in online talks sponsored by the African Union (AU), which is currently headed by South Africa, for nearly a month to reach an accord over the mega-dam on the Blue Nile. Over years of negotiations, Ethiopia has always backtracked on signing a binding deal, including during the talks brokered by Washington that faltered in February when Ethiopia didn t show up at the final round of negotiations, and also during Sudan-brokered talks in June that led to Egypt escalating the matter to the United Nations Security Council. During a press conference in Addis Ababa on Friday, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said Ethiopia wants a non-binding agreement on the GERD. “The Ethiopian government does not look for a binding agreement concerning the current talks about GERD, only a guidelines agreement which can be revised at any time,” Mufti said. Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion dam will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter. On the other hand, Egypt, which relies on the Blue Nile for 95 percent of its freshwater, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level. Egypt is not the only party that has repeatedly demanded the agreement be legally binding. Sudan has also raised the same concern at the end of the Khartoum-brokered negotiations that reached deadlock last month, and again in its three-page letter to the United Nations Security Council later in June. Among the disputed legal terms that Sudan mentioned in its letter is the "binding nature of the agreement." It proposed a draft agreement that "ensured that the agreement to be signed will be legally binding and cannot be amended or terminated without the agreement of all three parties." However, Sudan s letter said Ethiopia proposed a document of "guidelines" that can be revised and in some cases terminated. On Thursday Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stated that reaching a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD is a necessity for paving the way for future cooperation on the Nile. Rady added in the presidency statement that the El-Sisi and Ramaphosa tackled during their phone call the latest developments on GERD within the framework of what was discussed during the mini-African summit held on Tuesday. The AU issued a statement on Friday on behalf of its chairman Ramaphosa in which it stressed the heads of state and governments “agreed on the process of finalising negotiations on the text of a binding agreement on the filling and operation of GERD, which includes a comprehensive agreement on future developments on the Blue River.” The presidential spokesperson added that Ramaphosa expressed during the phone call his aspiration for the continuation of intensive coordination between the two countries on the issue of the $4.8 billion dam to reach a fair and balanced agreement for all parties on this vital issue. The Egyptian and South African presidents also discussed the latest on Libya, the statement said, as they exchanged viewpoints on how to activate the political settlement negotiations within the framework of the Berlin process and the "Cairo Declaration" initiative in an effort to undermine the dangers of terrorism, extremist militias and external interference that threaten regional security and stability. The Cairo Declaration is a recent joint political initiative announced last month in Cairo by President El-Sisi, commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar, and Libya s parliament speaker Aguila Saleh to resolve the Libyan crisis and end the armed conflict in the Egypt’s western neighbour. The initiative, which was welcomed by various foreign and Arab countries, mandates an intra-Libyan resolution as a basis for resolving the country’s conflict under resolutions by the UN and past efforts in Paris, Rome, Abu Dhabi, and most recently in Berlin.
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in a televised address to the nation on Thursday that "as the years and days pass carrying memories the occasion of the 23 July Revolution remains one of the most important milestones of pride in the country s history." The president s address comes on the 68th anniversary of the 1952 revolution which secured the country s independence from British occupation and instituted wide social and economic reforms. El-Sisi praised "the symbols of the revolution the late President Mohamed Naguib and its leader the late President Gamal Abdel-Nasser." "Our celebration of the great July Revolution is not only because of its role in changing the reality in Egypt but it is also because of its lightning role in our African continent and the Arab region, heralding a new historical era in which the peoples enjoy their gains, and their decision stems from their pure national will," he noted. The African and Arab liberation movements, accordingly, were launched, guided by the achievements of the Egyptian revolution, the president added. "Time has validated the nobility of the goals of the 23 July Revolution," he said. Egypt is moving forward with implementing a comprehensive strategic vision to build an advanced, strong state in all fields through establishing major national projects in all parts of the country, El-Sisi added. The current generations are facing challenges Egypt has never seen before, the president said. "What is going on around us is extremely dangerous and requires of all Egyptians to act as one man." "The threats to our national security make us more eager to develop the comprehensive and impactful capability to preserve the rights and gains of Egyptians, and make our national unity an inevitable matter." Egypt s ingrained doctrine is built both on respect for the other and to exert all possible efforts to prevent conflicts, but at the same time it is capable, when needed, of taking the necessary measures to safeguard its historical rights and gains," he stressed. We have to trust our capabilities to overcome crises in a manner that preserves Egypt s security and guarantees to Egyptians their right to live in a stable homeland, the president added. El-Sisi said he is confident of the Egyptians ability to achieve "the desired objectives and reach the desired position to secure Egypt s present and future to be as great and glorious as its past.
The assembly of a limited African Union (AU) summit on Tuesday afternoon, via videoconference, seemed to hold little hope of reassuring Egypt over its water security concerns. The Blue Nile is the source of by far the largest part of Egypt’s annual share of Nile water, and it is across the Blue Nile that Ethiopia has built the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), with its 74 billion cubic metre (bcm) reservoir. The limited summit convened in the wake of what Egyptian negotiators said were major differences on technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of GERD. According to an AU source who spoke briefly on the phone on condition of anonymity, the reports that Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt presented following two weeks of negotiations conducted through videoconference under the auspices of the AU reflect major differences in what the three countries perceive to be their “legitimate rights”. Ahead of the mini-summit Egyptian, African and other sources close to the file expected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chair of the AU, to present Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa with “possible alternative solutions” to their outstanding differences, and to ask them to give negotiations another go, this time aided by legal and technical assistance panels provided by the AU. While Egyptian officials had been maintaining that Cairo would not continue to negotiate in a vacuum, this week they sounded more reconciliatory, arguing that Egypt could well give the AU a chance to deliver by considering “a limited extension” of the talks. Egypt had demanded Ethiopia to refrain from “officially inaugurating the first filling of the dam” for as long as the negotiations unfold. It also requested that the AU compile a precise schedule for the participating countries to meet. Cairo is keen to secure the support of the AU presidency. The same officials say agreeing to an extension to negotiations is one thing, and agreeing to an open-ended exercise another. Officials who spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly on the possible length for an extension to the negotiation process put it at between three and five weeks. The wet season for the Blue Nile began last week. It usually continues for 10 consecutive weeks. Last Wednesday, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Service quoted the Minister of Irrigation Seleshi Bekele as saying Ethiopia had started the first filling and that the time had arrived for the people of Ethiopia to celebrate. The news came while consultations were underway between South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to set a date for the limited African summit that is supposed to review the disagreements contained in the reports Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia submitted to the AU following two weeks of negotiations. Initially, officials in Cairo said Egypt would recall ambassadors from Addis Ababa and Pretoria to protest against the breach of the negotiating rules, and head back to the UN Security Council that in June, on Egypt’s request, discussed the GERD dispute and asked the AU to facilitate talks and to report on the outcome of the negotiations. A round of phone calls by Foreign Ministry officials and a couple of phone calls between the Egyptian president and his South African counterpart managed to contain the crisis. Ethiopia also backtracked, with its minister of irrigation saying his words had been taken out of context. Sudan was sceptical about Addis Ababa’s backtracking: Khartoum had already announced a decline in the level of the Blue Nile. It did, however, opt to give Ethiopia the benefit of the doubt. For its part, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry requested clarification from Addis Ababa on the confusion surrounding the start of the first filling. According to a political source in Cairo, Ethiopia’s reply to both Egypt and Sudan was vague: Addis Ababa said the “deliberate filling” had not been initiated, and that Bekele was referring to the natural flow of Blue Nile water to the GERD reservoir. The same source said Ethiopia told South Africa that it had allowed water to gather behind the low-level gates of GERD to test the dam. On Tuesday following the limited AU summit, the office of the prime minister of Ethiopia issued a statement stating that the first filling was already done. “The current rainfall and runoff situation in the region have made it conductive to fill the dam,” and that “it has become evident over the past two weeks in the rainy season that GERD’s first-year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping,” the statement said. The statement of the Ethiopian prime minister, meanwhile, announced that the three riparian countries would continue to negotiate in the pursuit of an agreement. To the chagrin of Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopian officials had maintained during negotiations that the first filling, of less than 5bcm, was part of the testing of the hydrological functions of the dam and did not contradict the 2015 Declaration of Principles. The crisis appeared to have been put on ice, without being resolved, to allow the Tuesday summit to convene as Ethiopia continued to refuse to commit to halting the first filling during the current rainy season. After the summit, an Egyptian government official said that Cairo and Khartoum accept that Addis Ababa projected the matter as “natural filling”. He added that it was important that Ethiopia refrained from acting defined and that it was the “high-level” decision in Cairo that it is in the interest of Egypt to keep the negotiations going. According to one official, speaking in advance of the summit, “the next step depends on the ability of South Africa to secure a commitment from Ethiopia that it will negotiate in good faith and refrain from any unilateral action.” After the summit he said that the AU chair promised to invest every effort to make sure that the three countries walk their way towards a fair agreement that should accommodate the demands of all parties. Neither Egyptian nor Sudanese sources are particularly hopeful. Sources from both countries say the Ethiopian prime minister lacks the political capital to suspend the first filling pending the conclusion of talks, though a Sudanese source did not exclude the possibility for a reconciliatory deal “provided there is a political will on all sides”. Egyptian sources were more pessimistic, pointing to years of evidence that Ethiopia lacked the will to negotiate a fair deal. Ethiopia, they argue, is negotiating in an attempt to pressure Egypt and buy time. Had Ethiopia been serious about reaching a deal it could have struck one earlier this year on the text its delegation negotiated in Washington with the support of the US and the World Bank. After the summit, Sudan sounded less upbeat than Ethiopia. It just said that the Tuesday summit was productive. For its part, Egypt in a statement issued by the president’s office said it is sticking to its demands of a fair and legally binding agreement. Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent a special envoy to meet with Turkey’s foreign minister to discuss cooperation. The visit came as tensions between Cairo and Ankara over Libya reached boiling point. A day later Ahmed arrived in neighbouring Eritrea for talks with his counterpart Isaias Afwerki who had met with Al-Sisi in Cairo a few days earlier. The Egyptian-Eritrean talks were interpreted in Addis Ababa as an attempt by Cairo to build alliances with Ethiopia’s regional rivals. According to Hani Raslan, a political commentator who has followed the GERD dispute closely, this “does not at all seem to be a scene set for deal-making”. “Talks might continue because Egypt wants to exhaust every possible chance of negotiations but clearly the gap is really wide.” On Monday, Al-Sisi addressed unfolding political developments in a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump. In addition to facilitating three-way talks late last year, the US supported Egypt’s request for a UN Security Council session to discuss the GERD dispute. Officials say Cairo is likely to repeat its request for the US to help secure another UN Security Council session on GERD if the extended talks under the supervision of the AU hit “the expected impasse”. The US, the same officials say, has been also “encouraging Ethiopia to come round to an agreement” in return for economic and political support from Washington. Egypt is also lobbying the support of other permanent members of the UN Security Council, though Russia and China are both wary of the council becoming a venue for transboundary river disputes. If the talks go nowhere, then Cairo is hoping to get a UN Security Council position — “a resolution or a presidential declaration” — to protest the filling and call on Ethiopia to suspend any action pending an agreement. “The first filling is less than 5bcm,” Raslan said, which is a violation of the negotiating terms but far from being the worst thing that Egypt may have to swallow. That, Raslan added, lies 12 months away, during the 2021 rainy season, when Ethiopia will move towards a second filling of 18+ bcm. “By which time,” Raslan stated, “Egypt would have to have made its mind on how it will handle Ethiopian intransigence.”
Egypt’s parliament on Monday unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces abroad to defend Egypt’s national security, it said in a statement, amid the expansion of Libya’s Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) which has moved fighters to capture the key coastal city of Sirte. In an official statement following a closed-door session, the parliament said it "unanimously approved sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces mission ends." The decision came days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle” in the face of any attack on Sirte, which he earlier described as a “red line” for Egypt’s national security and warned it could prompt military intervention by Cairo. "The Egyptian nation, throughout history, has advocated for peace, but it does not accept trespasses nor does it renounce its rights. Egypt is extremely able to defend itself, its interests, its brothers and neighbours from any peril or threat," the statement said. "The armed forces and its leadership have the constitutional and legal licence to determine when and where to respond to these dangers and threats," it added. The MPs on Monday supported the military’s efforts to maintain the national, Arab and regional fundamentals, the statement said, adding that "neither has the [Egyptian] people let the army down, nor the army ever let the people down. The parliament reviewed the outcomes of a meeting on Sunday of the country s National Defence Council (NDC) headed by El-Sisi, which discussed threats to Egypt s western front. The NDC said in a statement following the meeting that Egypt seeks to stabilise the current situation and ensure the declared lines of the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra are not crossed to achieve peace between all Libyan parties. The closed-door session was attended by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad and Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, assistant minister of defence. Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal only allowed MPs and the prime minister to attend the plenary meeting, and ordered photographers, guards and staff to leave the meeting hall, and MPs to close their mobile phones. Abdel-Aal also urged MPs not to divulge the content of the meeting. Monday’s mandate comes a few days after El-Sisi met with Libyan tribal leaders in Cairo, where they called on the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt.”The central city of Sirte and the Jufra military airbase are currently controlled by the eastern-based forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by military commander Khalifa Haftar, which have retreated eastward after a series of gains by the government in Tripoli last month. President El-Sisi has said he would take military action in Libya after securing the approval of the Egyptian parliament. Under Egypt’s constitution, the president, who is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, shall not declare war or deploy troops outside the country without seeking the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs. The eastern parliament called on Egypt last week to directly intervene in the country’s conflict to counter what it termed a Turkish “occupation.” Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing Haftar in eastern Libya, while Turkey and Qatar support the Tripoli-based GNA. The GNA, with the support of Turkey, recently extended control across most of the territories held by the LNA in northwest Libya, repelling a 14-month offensive by Haftar’s forces to capture Tripoli, and forcing them to pull back east towards Sirte. It vowed to advance to capture Sirte and the inland Al-Jufra airbase. Turkey began earlier this year to bring thousands of mercenaries from Syria into Libya to bolster the GNA government. The latest tensions come one month after El-Sisi had warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighbouring country, and stressed that the frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security. He said any Egyptian intervention in the neighbouring country would aim to preserve the national security of Egypt, Libya and the region, securing Egypt’s western border and restoring stability in Libya.
Egypt’s parliament has delayed to Monday a session to vote on a mandate for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya amid escalating tensions, a leading MP said. Mostafa Bakri, an independent MP and journalist, said there were demands that discussions on the mandate be held in a closed session. The postponement comes one day after informed sources told Ahram Online that parliament is expected to hold a plenary meeting this week to discuss the political and military situation in neighbouring Libya. The sources said the discussion is to be followed by a vote to mandate President El-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya to help defend the western neighbour against Turkish aggression. El-Sisi met on Thursday with leaders of Libyan tribes in Cairo, where they called on him to authorise the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt if they see an imminent danger to both countries.” President El-Sisi said he would do so after obtaining approval from the Egyptian parliament. MPs told Ahram Online that El-Sisi s words go in line with Article 152 of Egypt s constitution, which states that “the president of the republic is the supreme leader of the Armed Forces. He shall not declare war or send the Armed Forces outside the state s borders to undertake fighting missions unless he first seeks the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs.” Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing military commander Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya, while Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNA. The tensions come one month after El-Sisi had warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighbouring country to restore security and stability after GNA-affiliated forces pushed back Haftar’s forces in the capital. El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security. The Egyptian president’s statements came weeks after El-Sisi, Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh announced a peace initiative, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, to end the civil war in Libya through a ceasefire and an elected leadership council. The Cairo plan was drafted after the collapse of an offensive launched by Haftar in April 2019 to capture the Libyan capital, further extending the rival GNA’s control over most of northwest Libya.
Egypt s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi chaired Sunday a meeting of the country s National Defence Council (NDC) to discuss pressing political, security and military situations on all strategic fronts, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue and the crisis in Libya. El-Sisi reviewed the council on trilateral negotiations on GERD between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and efforts aiming to reach a comprehensive agreement that fulfils the three countries aspirations and demands and preserve riparian rights in a fair and balanced manner, El-Sisi s spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement. The council emphasised that Egypt will proceed to reaching a comprehensive deal on the outstanding points of the GERD issue, especially the rules for filing and operating the dam, in a way that secures the three countries water and development interests and maintains regional security and stability. A mini-African summit will be held Tuesday to continue discussing the dispute around GERD after the recent round of negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU) saw no resolution of differences on major issues of contention over the hydropower project Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, one of two tributaries of the Nile River. The statement added that the NDC s meeting also touched on the developments in Libya as Egypt seeks to stabilise the current field situation and not to cross declared lines — referring to the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra — with the aim of bringing about peace between all Libyan parties. "Egypt will spare no efforts to support the sister Libya and help its people to bring their country to safety and overcome the current critical crisis, grounded in the fact that Libya is one of the highest priorities for Egypt s foreign policy, taking into account that Libyan security is inseparable from Egyptian and Arab national security," the statement stressed. The NDC affirmed commitment to a political solution to put an end to the Libyan crisis, in a manner that maintains its sovereignty and national and regional unity, eliminates terrorism, and prevents the chaos of criminal groups and extremist armed militias. Sunday s meeting asserted the importance of limiting illegal foreign interference that contributes to aggravating the security situation and threatens neighboring countries and international peace and security, Rady noted. It also assured the importance of guaranteeing a fair and transparent distribution of the wealth of Libyan national resources, and preventing any extremist groups from having power over these resources. Last month, President El-Sisi threatened to send troops into Libya if the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and allied Turkish forces tried to seize Sirte, which is located around 900 kilometres from the Egyptian-Libyan border. El-Sisi in June called Sirte a "red line" for Egypt and said any intervention by Egypt would mainly be aimed at protecting Egypt s western border, achieving a ceasefire, and restoring stability and peace in Libya. No single government has had full control over the oil-rich country since 2011 when then-leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed. The oil-rich country has since been ruled by two governments, one in the east represented by the House of Representatives, which is the country s only elected body, and one in the west, where the capital Tripoli is located, under the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron exchanged point of views on the latest developments in Libya in a phone call late on Wednesday, the Egyptian presidency announced. El-Sisi highlighted the country s efforts to settle the Libyan crisis in a manner that honours the will of the Libyan people and preserves Libya s resources, unity, territorial integrity and, at the same time, and protects the national security of Egypt on its western geographical front. Macron also praised Egypt s great efforts to restore security and stability in the war-torn country in light of the Cairo Declaration as an extension to the Berlin path to resolve the Libyan crisis, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said. The presidents underlined the importance of stopping all illegal foreign interventions in Libyan lands that use armed militias and terrorist organizations to achieve its goals at the expense of stability in Libya and regional security as a whole. They also agreed to continue joint coordination in the coming period to support efforts aiming at reach a settlement for the crisis, Radi added. In early June, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, and Libya s parliament speaker Aguila Saleh announced a new joint Cairo Declaration, a political initiative aimed at ending the conflict in Libya and obliges all foreign parties to “remove all foreign mercenaries nationwide." Egypt, France and the UAE support the government in Eastern Libya while Turkey and Qatar back the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Turkey has recently transferred thousands of Syrian Jihadis and mercenaries to back the GNA in its confrontation with the LNA. Earlier this week, Libya s parliament passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish occupation. On Wednesday, Cairo received a delegation from several Libyan tribes from Benghazi for talks about the current crisis and how to overcome it. Last month, Egyptian President El-Sisi warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the war-torn neighbouring country to restore security and stability after GNA-affiliated forces pushed back Haftar’s forces in the capital. El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security. Meanwhile, Macron has accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria. NATO is investigating French accusations that Turkey s navy failed last month to respond to an allied call to inspect a vessel this month in the Mediterranean, an incident Paris suspects involved Turkish arms smuggling to Libya
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has reiterated the body s rejection of "illegal Turkish interventions" in the internal affairs of Arab countries, specifically in Iraq, Syria and Libya, warning that Ankara s actions are threatening the whole of Arab national security. Aboul-Gheit made the remarks during an interview with Aly Hassan, the editor-in-chief of MENA agency, on Wednesday. He said Turkish interventions are "targeting and impinging on Arab national security" and affirmed that the pan-Arab body rejects any regional interference that "threatens the security, safety and stability of the Arab countries." On 23 June, the Arab League held an extraordinary session via video conference to discuss developments in Libya, and issued a 14-article resolution in which the league emphasised “the need for restoring the Libyan state and the role of its institutions in serving the Libyan people, away from foreign interventions.” The resolution also referred to the “central role of Libya s neighbouring countries in ending the Libyan crisis,” and urged combating “foreign interventions—regardless of their source and nature—that facilitate the transfer of terrorist, foreign fighters into Libya” and rejected the violation of international decisions on an arms embargo. Aboul-Gheit stressed the importance of an Egyptian initiative for Libya, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, saying it lays out a comprehensive roadmap for settling the Libyan crisis and provides executive steps and mechanisms to deal with the military, security, political and economic aspects of the crisis in the conflict-torn country. The oil-rich country has been divided between rival administrations in the east and west since 2014, and the fissure is growing due to political stalemate and the failure of international diplomatic initiatives to reach a truce. The Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli, is backed by Turkish troops and Qatar in its war against the eastern-based LNA and its leader Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The Egyptian initiative was announced on 6 June by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Haftar, and Libya s parliament speaker Aguila Saleh. It involves a ceasefire, an elected leadership council and a longer-term peace plan. The Egyptian initiative is based on the Libyan political consensus, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the outcomes of the Berlin conference, which resulted in a comprehensive political proposal that includes clear implementation steps in the political, economic and security fields and positive engagement from all Libyan parties with these initiatives. The initiative “encourages the Libyan parties to stop fighting and engage in the required political process," Aboul-Gheit told MENA, saying the Arab League “fully supports" the proposed plan, which has been welcomed by Arab, regional and Western powers. Earlier this week, Libya s eastern-based parliament, which backs Haftar, passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish "occupation." Last month, El-Sisi said his country has a legitimate right to intervene in Libya and ordered the armed forces to be prepared to carry out any mission outside the country if necessary. He said any intervention by Egypt would mainly be aimed at protecting Egypt s western border, achieving a ceasefire, and restoring stability and peace in Libya, stressing that crossing the Sirte-Jufra frontline is a “red line” for Egypt. Forces allied with Haftar have recently pulled back east towards Sirte and Jufra airbase in central Libya after forces loyal to the rival government in the west extended control across most of northwest Libya and advanced further south. Regional and international interventions in Libya On the Arab League s stance on the regional and international interventions in Libya, Aboul-Gheit emphasised that the league position has always been “clear and consistent,” rejecting all forms of foreign interference in the Libyan crisis. “Libya is an important Arab country and an active member of the Arab League. The league cannot accept turning Libya into a scene for foreign military interventions or an outlet for achieving external agendas or regional ambitions," the secretary-general said. Aboul Gheit had told a League emergency ministerial meeting, held last month at the request of Egypt, that the situation in Libya has become "extremely dangerous.” He attributed this to the mounting “internationalization” of the Libyan conflict,” the increase in “foreign military interventions in the conflict,” the “recurrent violations of the arms embargo” and the “systematic recruitment of mercenaries and foreign fighters.” Calling for an end to the clashes, especially around the Libyan city of Sirte, Aboul-Gheit said a truce will only be achieved if there are clear rules and commitment to the exit of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya and the dismantling and demobilising of armed groups. "No one wants to repeat the Syrian scenario in Libya, and certainly there is an absolute Arab commitment to preserve the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Libyan state and its national unity," Aboul-Gheit said.
New satellite imagery shows the reservoir behind Ethiopia s disputed hydroelectric dam beginning to fill, but an analyst says it s likely due to seasonal rains instead of government action. The images emerge as Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan say the latest talks on the contentious project ended Monday with no agreement. Ethiopia has said it would begin filling the reservoir of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam this month even without a deal, which would further escalate tensions. But the swelling reservoir, captured in imagery on July 9 by the European Space Agency s Sentinel-1 satellite, is likely a "natural backing-up of water behind the dam during this rainy season, International Crisis Group analyst William Davison told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "So far, to my understanding, there has been no official announcement from Ethiopia that all of the pieces of construction that are needed to be completed to close off all of the outlets and to begin impoundment of water into the reservoir have occurred, Davison said. But Ethiopia is on schedule for impoundment to begin in mid-July, he added, when the rainy season floods the Blue Nile. Ethiopian officials did not immediately comment Tuesday on the images. The latest setback in the three-country talks shrinks hopes that an agreement will be reached before Ethiopia begins filling the reservoir. Ethiopia says the colossal dam offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of its nearly 110 million citizens out of poverty and become a major power exporter. Downstream Egypt, which depends on the Nile to supply its farmers and booming population of 100 million with fresh water, asserts that the dam poses an existential threat. Years of talks with a variety of mediators, including the Trump administration, have failed to produce a solution. Last week s round, mediated by the African Union and observed by U.S. and European officials, proved no different. Experts fear that filling the dam without a deal could push the countries to the brink of military conflict. "Although there were progresses, no breakthrough deal is made, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia s minister of water, irrigation and energy, tweeted overnight. "All of the efforts exerted to reach a solution didn t come to any kind of result, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Monday in an interview with Egypt s DMC TV channel. Shoukry warned that Egypt may be compelled to appeal again to the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the dispute, a prospect Ethiopia rejects, preferring regional bodies like the African Union to mediate. Meanwhile the countries agreed they would send their reports to the AU and reconvene in a week to determine next steps. Between Egypt and Ethiopia lies Sudan, which stands to benefit from the dam through access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. But it has also raised fears over the dam s operation, which could endanger its own smaller dams, depending on the amount of water discharged daily downstream. In a press conference on Monday, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said the parties were "keen to find a solution but technical and legal disagreements persist over its filling and operation. Most important, he said, are the questions about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Hisham Kahin, a member of Sudan s legal committee in the dam negotiations, said 70% to 80% of negotiations turned on the question of whether an agreement would be legally binding.
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ratified the appointment of new ambassadors to several foreign capitals, including Washington, local media reported on Monday. The president ratified the appointment of ambassadors Motaz Zahran to Washington, Alaa Youssef to Paris, and Mohamed Idris as Egypt s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Zahran was Egypt s ambassador to Canada, while Youssef served as a presidential spokesman (2014-2017) before heading to Geneva as Egypt s permanent representative to the UN s European headquarters. Idris was Egypt s ambassador to Ethiopia before being named as the foreign minister s assistant for African affairs. He has served as Egypt s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York since 2018 and will remain in his post. Ambassador Ehab Gamal El-Din was also appointed as Egypt s Permanent Representative to the UN s Geneva headquarters, and Ambassador Yasser Hashem was appointed as consul to Melbourne, Australia. The reshuffle included the appointment of new ambassadors to Hong Kong, Uruguay, Poland, Peru, Thailand, Iraq, Singapore, Nepal, Panama, Cuba, Uganda, Nigeria, Guatemala, Switzerland, Mauritius, Finland, Cyprus, Ukraine, Austria, Netherlands, Tunisia, Zambia, Gabon and Burkina Faso.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi opened on Sunday the third stage of Al-Asmarat housing project in Moqattam, Cairo, which is being constructed as part of continued government efforts to combat informal settlements. Al-Asmarat 3 would become home to thousands of residential units with full utilities and facilities and a service complex that would serve around 100,000 people living in all three stages of the housing project. The third stage includes 7440 units and several facilities, including playgrounds, health units, a parking space accommodating 9,000 cars as well as plans to construct a church and mosque.
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