CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign minister visited Syria and Turkiye on Monday to convey a message of solidarity from Cairo following the devastating earthquake that struck the two countries on Feb. 6.
Sameh Shoukry’s visit was the first by an Egyptian foreign minister to Syria since its civil war began in 2011, and another sign of the warming ties between Syrian President Bashar Assad and Arab states.
Shoukry was met at Damascus airport by his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad, according to a tweet by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
The minister expressed his happiness at being in Syria and passed on a message of support from President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Assad. He said Cairo had already provided more than 1,500 tons of aid and would continue to support Syria as it dealt with the impact of the quake.
“The goal of my visit to Damascus is primarily humanitarian,” Shoukry said.
Assad expressed his appreciation for the call he received from El-Sisi after the earthquake and thanked Egypt and its people for hosting Syrian refugees and treating them as brothers.
After the meeting, Shoukry held talks with Mekdad and expressed the condolences of the Egyptian leadership, government and people for the victims of the earthquake and their wishes for a speedy recovery for those injured.
He said that the governments of the two countries had been working together since the first days after the earthquake, and added that relations between Egyptian and Syrian people were “fraternal, strong and well-established.”
Mekdad said: “We welcome the Egyptian foreign minister because when he comes to Damascus he comes to his home, his family and his country.”
Shoukry’s meeting with Assad had focused on the effects of the earthquake as well as the historical relations between the two countries, he added.
On Sunday, Hanafy Gebaly, speaker of the Egyptian parliament, arrived in Damascus as part of a delegation of heads of Arab parliaments on a visit aimed at supporting and showing solidarity with Syria.
Also on Monday, Shoukry visited Turkiye, where he was received at the airport in Adana by his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The pair held talks before traveling to the port of Mersin to receive the sixth Egyptian aid shipment to Turkiye.
Shoukry said the aid was indicative of Egypt’s keenness to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the earthquake and that directives had been issued to ensure aid ships were given priority when transiting the Suez Canal.
He told a press conference that Egypt would do everything in its power to support the Turkish people.
Cavusoglu thanked Egypt for its support and said his country would take concrete steps to boost Egyptian-Turkish to a higher level.
“The presence of Sameh Shoukry has an important significance, and I offer thanks and appreciation to him for this visit,” he said.