Sunday, January 29, 2017
Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi during the second follow-up meeting in Aswan (Snapshot from Egyptian TV)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi discussed on Friday evening a host of local and regional issues with youths attending the second monthly conference of dialogue wth the president in Aswan.
The conference is part of an initiative to hold monthly youth conferences, which was adopted at the first annual National Youth Conference in October.
El-Sisi fielded questions from the audience on a number of topics including the persisting absence of indoor plumbing in most of Egypt's 4,500 villages, the impact of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam on Egypt's share of Nile water, and the potential ramifications US president Donald Trump's stated intentions to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
El-Sisi president said that although Egyptians' concerns about the Ethipian dam are legitimate, he assured that the issue is being dealt with "in a good way" and in accordance with the agreements reached between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
He assured the audience that Egypt takes the issue seriously, saying the issue of Egypt's water supply is a matter of "life and death."
The two-day gathering brings together 1,300 young people from Upper Egyptian governorates, and is being held in one of the city's hotels amid tight security measures.
The meetings are attended by a number of MPs and ministers.
The conference aims to tackle challenges facing Upper Egypt, including ways to develop the economy and tourism in the area.
It is also focusing on social and political empowerment among young people, El-Sisi's office said earlier this week.
In his first public comments on Trump's campaign promise to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the hopeful capital of any future Palestinian state, the president he is delivering a message to the whole world, including the American and Israeli public, "not to make the situation more complicated."
A peaceful settlement for the Palestinian issue is key, El-Sisi said.
On domestic economic development, the Egyptian president also said that the government intends to raise the number of villages that have indoor plumbibg from 10 percent of the country's villages to 40 percent by mid 2018.
Sisi also addressed the country's ongoing economic difficulties, saying that Egypt currently has limited financial resources.
He said that publicly-owned pharmaceutical companies are not operating at full capacity due to financial and legislative obstacles.
The president and the minister of housing, who also attended the meeting, stressed that the government is committed to building more affordable housing for poorer citizens.
On inflation, El-Sisi said price hikes will be slow down once the supply catches up with the demand, adding that current economic growth is slower than population growth.
In October, over 3,000 young people from a number of the country's universities and political parties attended the National Youth Conference in the Sinai resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
The first monthly follow-up conference was held in December.
During his visit, the Egyptian president is scheduled to inaugurate the new Aswan Public Hospital, which has 15 outpatient clinics. The establishment of the new six-floor hospital cost EGP 140 million, in addition to the EGP 155 million cost of equipping the hospital.
El-Sisi arrived in Aswan on Wednesday, where he shook hands with a group of tourists on the streets of the city, later joining a group of young people as they watched Egypt play Ghana in the African Cup of Nations tournament.
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