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Egypt willing to send forces to secure Palestinian state

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi says he would deploy soldiers to stabilize area, in coordination with Israel, but ‘not forever’

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014. (AP/MENA)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014. (AP/MENA)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said in an interview published Sunday that he would be prepared to send troops to a future Palestinian state to help stabilize it.

Sissi, who begins his first European trip on Monday since ousting his Islamist predecessor, made the comments in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

He is due to visit France and Italy, while the trip will also include a meeting with Pope Francis.

The Egyptian leader said he would send forces to a future Palestinian state in agreement with Israel and the Palestinian authority.

“We are ready to send military forces into a Palestinian state,” he said.

“We would help the local police and reassure the Israelis through our role as guarantor. Not forever, of course. For the time necessary to reestablish confidence. But first a Palestinian state must exist where troops can be sent to.”

Sissi said he had spoken of the idea with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Speaking of neighboring Libya, Sissi described the country as having descended into “chaos” and said “extremely dangerous jihadist bases” were being established there.

“The international community must make a very clear and joint choice in favor of the Libyan national army and no one else,” Sissi said. “Aid, equipment, training must be sent to it exclusively.”

Sissi also said Egypt had not intervened militarily in Libya. Egypt has denied reports that it facilitated air strikes by the United Arab Emirates, a close ally, against militias in Libya.

The Egyptian leader overthrew president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, prompting a wave of violence between Morsi supporters and security forces that drew rebukes from the United States and Europe.

But Egypt has come back in from the cold since Sissi’s landslide election win earlier this year, boosted by its increasingly central role in combating regional Islamist militancy.

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