Israeli and Egyptian ministers meet for first time in years

Discussion focused on various regional issues, including the possibility of Israel supplying Egypt with natural gas.

March 31, 2016 21:34
1 minute read.
Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz (R) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz (R) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz met in Washington on Thursday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry for the first meeting between ministers of the two countries in a number of years.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit being held in the White House.

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According to Steinitz's office, the discussion focused on various regional issues, the possibility of Israel supplying Egypt with natural gas, and international cooperation in preventing nuclear terrorism. 

Israel's delegation to the summit also included the head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Zeev Snir; the deputy head of the National Security Council, Yaakov Nagel; and representatives from the Foreign Ministry. 

US President Barack Obama’s original goal for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit – the fourth in a series of confabs meant to address what he described, in 2009, as the “most immediate and extreme threat to global security” – was for global leaders to step back and assess the progress they have made to secure existing stockpiles.

But the summit has adopted a sense of urgency, as the White House believes Islamic State is intent on acquiring radioactive material to conduct a nuclear terrorist attack.

After its operatives were found last week to have been conducting surveillance on Belgium’s nuclear scientists, one senior administration official said the US is not aware of a specific, active Islamic State plot to obtain or use radioactive material.

“Certainly the video footage is of concern and suggests that there is at least some interest by [Islamic State],” Laura Holgate, senior director for weapons of mass destruction and arms control on Obama’s National Security Council, told reporters in a phone call on Tuesday. “But we don’t have any indications that it was part of a broader planning to acquire nuclear materials, and we don’t have any information that a broader plot exists.”

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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