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Egypt’s Foreign Policy to Become More Open under Morsi – Envoy

RIA Novosti

15:46 02/07/2012 MOSCOW, July 2 (RIA Novosti, Maria Kuchma) - Egypt’s foreign policy under President Mohamed Morsi will be more open than previously, the country’s outgoing ambassador to Russia, Alaa el Hadidi, said on Monday.

“I think Egypt’s foreign policy will be more open, unprecedentedly open, if compared to that pursued by the previous regime,” el Hadidi told journalists in Moscow.

The Egyptian government under President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted as a result of last year’s revolution, was “oriented towards certain world powers,” the diplomat said, in an apparent reference to the United States. The new Egyptian leadership “understands the importance of open policies towards all international [political] forces,” he said.

Cooperation with Russia will remain among the “most important directions” of Egypt’s foreign policy, he said.

El Hadidi’s remarks came two days after Islamist leader Morsi was sworn in as Egypt’s new president in Cairo. In his inauguration speech, Morsi pledged to honor all Egypt's standing international agreements.

A U.S.-educated engineer who was nominated for the country’s top post by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, Morsi narrowly defeated Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak. He won 51.7 percent of the vote in run-off elections in mid-June.

Shortly after his election, Morsi resigned from his party, saying he would be the leader of “all Egyptians” regardless of their religious beliefs, social position and sex.

El Hadidi said he believed Egypt would have a new government, constitution and parliament by the end of this year or by early 2013.

He said, however, that reestablishing the country’s political institutions after a period of military rule that followed last year’s revolution was a much easier task then solving economic problems facing Egypt, which he described as a “great challenge” for the country’s new leadership.

Some 40 percent of Egyptians live below the poverty line, he said, adding that this was largely due to “mistaken decisions” made under Mubarak.

Attracting foreign investment and developing tourism, which accounts for some 11 percent of Egypt’s GDP and provides jobs for some 2 million Egyptians, is crucial for Egypt’s new authorities to achieve economic recovery, el Hadidi said.

He dismissed fears expressed by some liberal commentators that tourists would face dress codes and other restrictions in Egypt under Morsi, whose electoral pledges included the implementation of Islamic Sharia law in the country.

“Everyone in Egypt understands that whatever state we have – Islamic or non-Islamic – tourism is very important,” he said.

He cited the reaction of Egypt’s stock market, which, following Morsi’s election, regained some 25 percent of its losses suffered over the 18 months since last year’s revolution, as a positive sign for the country which has entered a “new stage” in its history.

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