Sisi defends handover of Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia

Published April 13th, 2016 - 12:00 GMT
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (AFP/File)
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (AFP/File)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi addressed the controversy around his government's recognition of Saudi sovereignty over two Red Sea islands last week, saying the islands of Tiran and Sanafir are Saudi.

"The controversy is caused by the difference between how the state deals with the issue and how people take it from an individual perspective," he said in a public meeting attended by public figure and top officials that was televised live.

"The decision [to acknowledge the Saudi claim] was made through documents with the Egyptian state institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the General Intelligence Service; we also stuck to the 1990 presidential decree which was submitted to the United Nations," El-Sisi said, referring to several pieces of evidence that the government has put forward in recent days to explain the Saudi claim.

"In June 2014, I started to look into to the issue and to redraw the maritime borders with Saudi Arabia in order to start drilling for oil in the Red Sea without affecting the Saudi share. We're also doing the same thing with Greece and Cyprus," the president said.

On Saturday, the Egyptian government announced that it sealed a deal with the Saudi government which leaves the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir within the regional waters of Saudi Arabia. The two islands, which are located at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, have been under Egyptian supervision for decades.

"Eventually, the parliament will study the deal and vote on it to ratify, it and I hope that we don't talk about it again," El-Sisi said.


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