CAIRO, Sept 24 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reflected his country's aspiration to win a seat within the United Nations' Security council during his speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Sisi addressed the General Assembly's 69th session, delivering a speech as Egypt's representative.
The president said Egypt would look out for the interests of developing countries as a Security Council member during the 2016-2017 term, especially the interests of African countries. He called on member-states to elect Egypt as a non-permanent Security Council member.
The Security Council is made up of five permanent states – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France – and 10 non-permanent member-states which change every two years.
Egypt's last membership in the international council was in 1997. The Arab country has held on to a non-permanent seat at the Security Council four times since the council was established in 1945.
The Egyptian president addressed the issue of terrorism in the Middle East, stressing that Egypt has suffered from terrorism since the 1920 at the hands of "groups which trade in religion." He added that Egyptians have "made history" by overthrowing the "corrupt" regime of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the "powers of darkness and extremism" represented by the regime of ousted President Mohamed Mursi in 2013.
Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood has been facing its most stringent security crackdown in years since the former president's military ouster in July last year. The group, which was founded in 1928, was listed as a terrorist organisation in December, with the majority of its leaders already behind bars facing charges related to terrorism and inciting violence.
"The escalating extremism and violence practiced in the region in the name of religion is proof of the true goals of such groups [as the Muslim Brotherhood] which exploit religion," Sisi said, adding that he has "repeatedly warned" against such threats.
Islamic State fighters have controlled large areas of Iraq and Syria recently. They have carried out a number of mass executions and beheaded two American journalists and a British national.
On September 11, Saudi Arabia hosted talks in Jeddah to discuss means of combating extremist groups within the region. The talks, attended by representatives from the U.S. as well as Arab and Muslim countries, granted the support of 10 Arab countries - including Egypt - to the U.S. in a "coordinated military campaign" against Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
The Pentagon announced early Tuesday that the United States and a number of Gulf Arab countries launched their first air and missile strikes on Islamic State fighters located in Syria.
"Terrorism doesn't differentiate between developed communities and developing ones," Sisi said. He added that terrorism in the Middle East is threatening the states' "survival" and "identity".
FINALISING EGYPT's "ROADMAP"
Sisi said he has a responsibility to build a "modern, democratic state" since he was elected president in June. He referred to the roadmap he had announced following Mursi's ouster on July 3, 2013, saying that it would be concluded with holding parliamentary elections.
"Egypt has started a comprehensive, ambitious programme for development until 2030 … which aims to establish a free market that can attract investment within a stable and secure environment," Sisi said.
The Egyptian president referred to the new Suez Canal Development Project as "Egypt's gift to the world."
On August 5, Sisi launched a mega project, which entails digging a 72-km (45-mile) bifurcation to the Suez Canal as well as developing the Suez Canal region.
The Egyptian president also invited the General Assembly attendants to be part of an economic conference Egypt is hosting next February.
Egypt's Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi announced the country will hold a conference, entitled the Egyptian Economic Summit, in February to attract foreign companies, donor and international organisations.
Sisi stressed that the conference will help "achieve development … not just in Egypt but in the entire region."
SISI MEETING OBAMA
Sisi embarked on a trip to the U.S. on Sunday, his first since he was elected president in June.
The United States Department of State invited Sisi to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday during the former's visit to New York.
Egypt's relations with the U.S. have been tense since the ouster of Mursi in July 2013 at the hands of Sisi.
The U.S. announced temporarily halting part of its 1.3 billion-dollar military aid to Egypt last October pending "credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections."
In January, the U.S. congress passed a bill resuming the aid in installments and under certain conditions.
(Writing by Rana Muhammad Taha)