On the sidelines of the two-day G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan, from 28-29 June, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi participated in various important meetings with other world leaders, including the Japanese and Italian prime ministers and German chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss ways of enhancing cooperation and to consult about a number of regional and international issues.
Sisi’s participation follows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s invite, whose country is chairing the 14th summit for the first time since its inception in 2008, according to a statement made by Egypt’s presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady.
The invite comes in light of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in 2019 and in the context of growing relations between the two countries, which are discussing means of boosting cooperation in the fields of trade and economy.
The G20 (Group of Twenty) Summit assembles the most important developing economies including the European Union to discuss key issues pertaining to the global economy. In addition, leaders of several guest countries as well as representatives of international organizations are invited to participate in the meeting.
The themes of interest to the 2019 summit include global economy trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, employment, women’s empowerment, development and health.
Egypt’s recent successful experience was hailed during several of the meetings the president held on the sidelines with other leaders taking part in the summit.
The Japanese-Egyptian round-table saw a number of Japanese businessmen working in fields such as renewable energy, transportation and petrochemicals discuss means of boosting bilateral cooperation.
In a statement released on 27 June, the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry said that the event will be a chance to discuss some of the key issues of interest to Egypt and Japan and probe means of fostering bilateral relations in the sectors of economy, trade and investment, besides shedding light on Cairo’s economic reform.
The ministry statement added that trade exchange between the two countries hit $1.26 billion in 2018, compared to $969 million the year before, according to Egypt Today.
At the African-Chinese mini summit held ahead of the summit on Thursday, 27 June, Sisi stressed the importance of the Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative, which aims to enhance trade, investments, and infrastructure in more than 150 countries across Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
He also asserted that Egypt was keen on achieving the goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable developments.
On Friday 28 June, Sisi met with Italian PM Giuseppe Conte to discuss the two countries’ mutual interest in further investigating the case of the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Egypt back in 2016. They also discussed recent regional developments, whereby Sisi noted the necessity of reaching a peaceful political settlement in the Libyan crisis.
During the session, he also spoke about the importance of a trilateral cooperation between Egypt, Italy and Africa, especially during Egypt’s current chairmanship of the African Union.
The Italian prime minister on his part, expressed his country’s appreciations of Egypt’s regional role as a pillar of security and stability in the region.
The president similarly met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the first day of the summit to discuss the great leap in bilateral relations and ways of strengthening tripartite cooperation frameworks between the two countries, along with coordinating efforts with Egypt as a leading partner in combating terrorism and illegal immigration.
Merkel in turn asserted that Egypt is one of Germany’s strategic partners in the Middle East region, affirming her country’s keenness on backing Egypt’s measures to improve the economy and achieve development, mainly through increasing investments as well as by transferring German expertise, technology and industry.
In talks held with the Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday 29 June, the Syrian crisis was top of the agenda, while the talks showed that views aligned regarding latest developments in the Gulf region, according to Reuters.
In his meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Sisi again assured Egypt’s aspiration to deepen bilateral relations on different levels.
During their meeting, the Egyptian president praised the various joint projects being implemented in Egypt, including the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant and the Russian Industrial Zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, which is expected to take economic bilateral relationship to an unprecedented level.
For his part, Putin said that Russia prioritizes developing bilateral ties with Egypt in the coming period, as part of the strategic cooperation between both countries, according to the president’s spokesperson Bassam Rady.
Other issues of concern addressed by Sisi on Saturday took place in a session on inequality and women’s empowerment, where many of the participating international parties lauded the recent progress Egypt has made in these areas, for instance by citing recent constitutional amendments which helped increase the representation of women in the parliament to more than 25 percent, according to a statement issued by Rady.
The G20 summit has expanded its agenda since 2008, when it held its inaugural summit in Washington D.C in response to the global financial crisis. Initially a semi-annual event, since 2011 the meetings have been held annually.