Cairo - Mohamed Abdu Hassanein
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi held talks with his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, on bilateral relations and coordination of efforts on all issues related to the situation in the Horn of Africa.
According to observers who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egypt, through extensive cooperation with Eritrea, is seeking greater influence in the Horn of Africa, which is strategically important for its national security, with the growing Turkish and Qatari presence there, and the current tensions with Ethiopia and Sudan.
Eritrea is an important partner to Egypt as it enjoys a long coastline on the Red Sea and a major gateway to vessels crossing the Egyptian Suez Canal.
Ambassador Bassam Radi, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said that Sisi has stressed his country’s interest in establishing strategic partnership with Eritrea and called for further cooperation projects in various sectors, including agriculture, electricity, health and trade, as well as in the livestock and fisheries sectors.
The Egyptian president pointed to the cooperation between the two countries in the framework of international forums and organizations, underlining the importance of increasing coordination and consultation between the two sides on regional matters and addressing common challenges, mainly the threat of terrorism.
The spokesman added that the Eritrean president affirmed his country’s pride in Egypt’s long-standing relations, praising Cairo’s leading role in the region and its keenness to achieve development, security and stability in the African continent.
The president expressed Eritrea's appreciation for Egypt’s technical support and capacity-building programs, as well as the existing cooperation in international forums.
Dr. Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Studies at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Afwerki’s recent visit was particularly important given the developments that affect the security of the Red Sea, with the Turkish emergence on the Sudanese island of Suakin, and the subsequent alliance between Sudan, Qatar and Turkey, which also extends to Ethiopia, a country that is involved in a dispute with Egypt over the Nile waters.
In December, Sudan granted Turkey the right to manage the island of Suakin for rehabilitation, to become an important tourist city on the Red Sea, angering Cairo.