Libya high on Lavrov’s agenda during Algiers visit

Staying in Cairo, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov promised that Russian tourists would return to Egypt very soon. Besides, meeting there on Monday with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil al-Arabi and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (LAS) Amr Moussa, Sergei Lavrov discussed the prospects for the Middle East settlement and the situation in Libya. The Libya issue will feature prominently during Lavrov’s talks in Algeria on Tuesday, March 22nd as well.

Russia’s Foreign Minister arrived in the Algerian capital Algiers from Egypt by nightfall. He spent extra time to get there because his aircraft flew over the Mediterranean Sea, not directly across Libya, where hostilities are currently underway. On his arrival at the airport Lavrov started coordinating the schedule of his visit with his Algerian counterpart Murad Medelsi.

The current Algerian leadership is trying to prevent a repeat of the Libyan scenario in the country. Judging by the facts, not one country in either North Africa or the Middle East is insured against Libya’s scenario. By the way, this is exactly what Russia’s Foreign Minister discussed during his visit to Egypt. Meeting with the LAS Secretary-General Amr Moussa, Russia’s Foreign Minister stressed that nobody would dare now to guess how the current situation in Libya might affect the other countries in that region. The military operations, which are being carried out by the international coalition against the Gaddafi regime, have overstepped the framework of the mandate of the UN Security Council, which provides for measures for the protection of the Libyan civilians, Moscow says. In future this may lead to the collapse of the Libyan state. And one more thing. Following the developments in the Jamahiriya, you can’t ignore another conflict, which has been in progress for many years now, that is, the Middle East settlement, to which paramount attention should be paid now as never before, Sergei Lavrov stressed. The next meeting of the Quartet of International Mediators, including Russia, the USA, the United Nations, and the European Union, instead of ending inconclusively as was many times before, must achieve results. Egypt has again got involved in the settlement process, and Lavrov was hopeful that the next session of the Quartet of mediators would prove fruitful.

Staying in Cairo, Sergei Lavrov discussed with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi on Monday the state of and the prospects for the development of bilateral relations. The main result of their talk is that Russia and Egypt are sincerely and strongly interested in the strengthening of their partnership. The trade and economic cooperation between the two countries remains in force – the more so as Moscow supports the current Egyptian regime, regarding the realization of reforms through national dialogue and accord and is ready to offer help. Among other things, Lavrov promised to consider the possibility of lifting a ban on visiting the Red Sea resorts by Russian tourists – such were the recommendations of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Russia proceeds from the fact that the situation in Egypt is gradually returning to normal. The representatives of our embassy have recently visited Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. The situation has visibly changed for the better there. The Egyptian Minister of Tourism visited Moscow some time ago, where he wrote an official letter, providing security guarantees to Russian tourists in Egypt and also the guarantees of the non-stop delivery of food to them there.  All these aspects of the present-day situation will be considered very soon, and I’m hopeful that our answer will not be long in coming, Sergei Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, as regards the tourist boom, the situation in Cairo is far from being ideal. Demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo continue every day, the curfew is still in force there, and the majority of hotels are half-empty. As a result, Egypt’s economy is suffering losses of many billions, which is only making the restoration of the country far more difficult. Therefore, the return of numerous tourists from Russia to the Egyptian resorts will be Russia’s contribution to the revival of Egypt’s economy.

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