Cairo

03 April 2019

Opening remarks at press conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shokry Selim of Egypt

António Guterres

I’d like to first of all express my deep gratitude for the wonderful Egyptian hospitality, which I always enjoy when coming to Cairo.
 
I am very grateful for the opportunity to have a lengthy and very important discussion with His Excellency President [Abdelfattah al] Sisi and with Minister [Sameh] Shoukry yesterday and today.
 
Egypt is a fundamental partner for the UN in relation to peace and security in the region. Our cooperation with Egypt is an essential aspect in our own work, and I am extremely grateful for the very open discussions that we had in relation to all the complex situations we are facing in the areas where Egypt is playing a very important positive role.
 
From Cairo, I’m flying to Libya and, as you can imagine, Libya was in the very centre of discussions.
 
Our objective is simple. First of all, to avoid any major confrontation and to create the conditions to stabilize the situation in Libya, it’s essential to unify the institutions of Libya - the Libyan National Parliament, the Presidential Council, the Government and the National Security Council. We hope that the conversations that took place between [Fayez] Sarraj and [Khalifa] Haftar in Abu Dhabi and the understanding will be an important step to guarantee that, and that this can be consolidated by a national conference that will take place afterwards. Paving the way for a normal evolution that we hope will make Libya be a full partner in the international community with normal institutions and with its economy re-flourishing again and with the international cooperation to benefit the whole region.
 
In relation to Palestine and Israel, I want to pay tribute to the extraordinary work that Egypt has been conducting and is responsible for the fact that it was possible to avoid a dramatic escalation in Gaza.
 
Egypt’s very strong commitment has allowed not only to avoid that escalation but to create conditions for more effective humanitarian aid to Gaza and is an integral part for the unification of the Palestinians, which of course is another very important political objective and we fully support Egypt’s efforts. I think we see eye to eye in relation to the solution that needs to be based on two States with Jerusalem as capital of both States, and this is very clear for us that there is no Plan B - that everything must be done to guarantee that the resolutions that were approved by the organs of the United Nations one day will be implemented, and that we will have two States in Palestine and Israel, living together in peace and security, and we will be working together as much as we can for that objective to be achieved.
 
We also had a very useful exchange of information about the situation in Syria, and I believe again we see eye-to-eye in relation to what needs to be done for a political solution in Syria based on 2254 resolution in the Security Council, and in relation to Yemen.
 
The UN has convened a few months ago for the first time a summit of the heads of counter-terrorism departments of all countries. We are having this year important meetings of the same entities at regional level, one will take place in Nairobi for Africa. We believe that there is an international responsibility to deal with the enormous danger that is represented today by the foreign fighters fleeing conflict situations, and that the world needs to unite to find answers and that it would not be fair to ask some countries that are, I would say, in the frontline to bear all the costs and all the negative impacts of what we are witnessing in relation to the spread of terrorism. 
 
We also said to the President we had a very comprehensive discussion about all the areas of cooperation between Egypt and the UN, the Egyptian Government and the UN, and there, we covered the three pillars of the UN: Peace and Security, Sustainable Development and Human Rights.
 
I would also like to express my enormous appreciation for the hospitality of the Egyptian government, the hospitality I had yesterday with the visit to the works at the new museum. Also, I have to say how deeply impressed I was by the wisdom and compassion and spirit of tolerance that yesterday I had the privilege to witness in my visit to Al-Azhar.