Israeli delegation visits Cairo for security talks

Defense officials reportedly hold brief meeting with Egyptian counterparts while their aircraft waits on the runway

An Egyptian watchtower overlooking the Israeli border with Egypt (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)
An Egyptian watchtower overlooking the Israeli border with Egypt (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An Israeli delegation of defense officials reportedly visited Cairo on Thursday to meet with Egyptian counterparts and discuss regional security issues, including terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

According to a report in Egypt’s Al-Masry al-Youm, the delegation arrived in Cairo in a military aircraft that waited for them on the runway. The delegation reportedly numbered four Israeli officials.

The meeting with Egypt’s senior intelligence officials, led by Major General Rafet Shahata, reportedly lasted a few hours and covered, among other things, Israel’s reported attack on a Syrian convoy carrying weapons to Hezbollah; the security situation in the Sinai; protection of the joint border; Palestinian reunification; and the resumption of regional peace talks.

Recent weeks have seen Egypt crack down more firmly on terror and smuggling activities in the Sinai Peninsula.

Earlier this week, Egyptian security forces pumped water into the smuggling tunnels leading into the Gaza Strip and intensified their patrols along the border in a bid to reduce smuggling activity.

Tunnel owners in Rafah told the Safa news agency that, over the past two weeks, Egyptian soldiers have set up checkpoints in Sinai, stopped incoming trucks, and confiscated merchandise.

Egyptian media reported that, so far this winter, security forces have intercepted five tons of explosives, rockets and other weapons, all of which were apparently destined to be smuggled into Gaza via cross-border tunnels.

Last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi welcomed Ahmadinejad at the Cairo International Airport.

Despite the fact that the visit was described as “routine,” since Ahmadinejad came to attend a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Cairo, the trip raised concerns over the possibility of the two regional heavyweights warming to each other.

Egypt’s fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, has signaled that relations with Iran could one day be upgraded to full diplomatic ties. Egypt does not have an embassy in Tehran, and bilateral relations were severed in 1980 following the Islamic Revolution and Egypt’s signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel.

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