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Germany offers Egypt aid and trade
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 24 - 02 - 2011

CAIRO - German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Thursday offered both aid and trade to Egypt as the new government in Cairo attempts to provide jobs for Egyptians after this month's uprising.
In a key move, the visiting minister cancelled his department's recent warnings against travel in Egypt, encouraging German holidaymakers to resume vacations on the Red Sea and in the Nile Valley.
Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange in Egypt. Analysts have warned that Egypt's democratic revolution may fail if jobs and better incomes do not follow.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit rejected this, saying, 'Egypt has changed and there is no going back in this society.' He encouraged German tourists to return to Egypt and stressed the importance of maintaining German investments in Egypt.
Westerwelle also met with Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, head of the interim, military-backed government, and several opposition figures. But like British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, he did not schedule any meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Amr Mussa, the secretary general of the Arab League who was an early critic of Egypt's ousted old regime, cautioned Westerwelle that the time was not yet ripe for sanctions against Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi.
Westerwelle said, 'Gaddafi is a dictator who is attacking his own people.' He admitted the European Union had yet to come up with a united response. The previous day in Berlin, Westerwelle had suggested sanctions were an option.
Westerwelle also called for the European Union to reduce trade barriers to Egypt's exports and said German companies were keen to invest in the energy sector in Egypt.
But tourism, which has almost completely collapsed, is a first priority for the Egyptians. Some 1.3 million Germans visited Egypt last year, the third-biggest group after Russians and Britons.
Westerwelle said, 'Normal tourism is feasible again now.' Travel warnings in Berlin that prompted package-holiday companies to cease inbound traffic have been cancelled.
He said Germany would help Egypt's transformation to a democracy, but would not be forcing any aid on Egyptians.
'The Egyptians are a proud people. We are not here to patronize,' he said. Berlin was offering a 'partnership of equals'. Berlin has so far offered financial aid totalling about 30 million euros (40 million dollars).


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