Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has agreed to attend an international summit in Beijing early next month at the behest of his Chinese counterpart, according to the presidential office in Cairo.
President Sisi thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for inviting him to attend the BRICS summit, “which reflects the special bond between the two countries as well as their strategic partnership,” the Egyptian leader told state-owned Chinese news agency Xinhua.
BRICS refers to the large developing countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the most recent member South Africa. It is considered a rival to the G20 coalition that includes the United States. Their annual summit is scheduled to take place from September 3 to 5.
The announcement of President Sisi’s visit to China and Vietnam in September comes after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration decided to cut military and economic aid to America’s longtime ally Egypt, a move that Cairo has denounced as a “misjudgment.”
“Our participation in the meetings with the BRICS countries is of great importance, especially as Egypt enjoys promising economic capabilities and provides an outstanding strategic location that can help it effectively support the BRICS community and its priorities,” said the Egyptian president.
“The visit will also provide a good opportunity to follow up on the joint projects of cooperation between the two countries in various fields, taking into account the contribution of Chinese companies to several ongoing infrastructure projects in Egypt, including the new administrative capital project, electricity and energy development projects and transportation,” he added.
On Monday, Sisi convened a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and cabinet ministers to review to prepare for the upcoming Beijing visit, reports al Ahram.
“The ministers of electricity, transportation, military production, trade and industry, investment and international cooperation also attended the meeting,” adds the Egyptian newspaper. “Also present were the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate and the chairman of Suez Canal Authority.”
The Egyptian leader will also travel to Vietnam after the BRICS summit to meet the country’s President Tran Dai Quang and the secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, marking the first visit by an Egyptian president to Vietnam in decades.
According to the statement from the Egyptian president’s office announcing his trip, he is trying to strengthen Egyptian-Vietnamese relations.
China and Vietnam do not necessarily see eye to eye, particularly when it comes to Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
To the ire of China, the United States has also reached out to Vietnam to improve the relationship between the two nations.
China has ignored Vietnam’s opposition to Beijing’s land grabs.
Despite regional opposition backed by the United States, China has constructed various military facilities in the Spratly and Paracel Island areas in the South China Sea.
Although the Sisi administration has expressed dismay at the U.S. decision to reduce aid to Cairo over an alleged “lack of progress in key areas, including human rights” and democratic “governance,” the State Department insists the move will not affect the relationship between the two countries.
Days after the Trump administration announced that it was withholding up to $290 million in assistance to Egypt, the U.S. president allegedly told Sisi that he wants to enhance America’s ties with Cairo, revealed the presidential office in Cairo.