China's Foreign Minister holds talks in Egypt as last stop on African tour

Qin Gang discusses regional issues and bilateral relations with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi

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China's Foreign Minister met Egyptian leaders and the Arab League chief on Sunday in Cairo, the last stop in a week-long African tour that took Beijing’s top diplomat to Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola and Benin.

Qin Gang met on Sunday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and his counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

In a joint news conference, Mr Shoukry said the talks dealt with Sino-Egyptian relations and increasing Chinese tourism to Egypt, which has for years been striving to boost the sector.

They also discussed regional issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tensions have risen in the Palestinian territories since the return to office last month of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the head of Israel’s most right-wing and religiously conservative government.

Mr Qin urged Israel to “stop incitements and provocations, and to refrain from taking unilateral actions that could worsen the situation”.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, right, and Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Cairo. AP

He also called for “maintaining the status quo” in Jerusalem's most important holy site — Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine — after an ultra-conservative cabinet minister visited it earlier this month.

The visit by Itamir Ben-Gvir, Israel's National Security Minister, drew fierce condemnation from across the Muslim world and a strong rebuke from the US.

In his meeting with Mr El Sisi, the Chinese minister said Beijing would continue to invest in Egypt’s infrastructure projects.

China has invested billions of dollars in Egyptian state-led projects such as the Suez Canal Economic Zone and the new administrative capital, which is being built in the desert east of Cairo.

Mr Qin arrived in Cairo on Saturday afternoon. His Africa tour is his first overseas trip since he took office in December.

His tour of Africa, where China has over the past two decades invested some $160 billion in infrastructure projects, appeared to be Beijing’s response to last month’s meeting in Washington between US President Joe Biden and dozens of African leaders.

Mr Biden pledged government funding and private investment to help the resources-rich continent develop in the fields of health, infrastructure, business and technology.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 8:54 AM