Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Merkel visits Egypt with eye on stemming migration

Published:Friday | March 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM
German Chancellor Angela Merkel


German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday pledged to boost support for Egypt's economic development and partner with Cairo to help address the region's refugee crisis, with an eye on stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

After meeting President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Merkel told reporters that she had discussed providing assistance and equipment to stop human traffickers from using Egypt as a transit country. Neither leader provided further details.

"There are a variety of refugees in Egypt, and we would like these refugees to have better opportunities as Egypt faces a big challenge, we are discussing concrete points," she said at a joint news conference at the presidential palace. "We can imagine further support but have not reached this point yet."

Germany wants to help Egypt strengthen its coast guard and crack down on illegal trafficking across the Mediterranean, where thousands of migrants die at sea each year. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have entered Europe in recent years.

"Egypt has made proposals for technical support that also must be further discussed, but I think that when it has to do with border security, Germany is very ready to deliver support," Merkel said.

Merkel's visit was her first visit to the country in a decade. She later met with Muslim and Christian leaders and is to meet civil society representatives before heading to Tunisia today.

She is believed to be seeking a deal similar to the one reached between the European Union and Turkey in which Ankara blocks migrants and refugees from travelling onward to Europe in exchange for economic aid. Egypt has so far rejected the idea, but el-Sissi said that it was a topic for negotiation.