A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (right) meeting with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (left) at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo on June 15, 2022. — Egyptian Presidency handout pic via AFP
Wednesday, 15 Jun 2022 11:53 PM MYT
CAIRO, June 15 — Israel and Egypt plan to boost gas exports to Europe under an agreement signed during a Cairo visit today by EU chief Ursula von der Leyen as the bloc seeks to wean itself off Russian gas.
Von der Leyen also pledged food relief worth €100 million (RM459 million) for Egypt, which has been reeling from grain shortages as a result of the Ukraine war.
The European Commission president had vowed yesterday, during a visit to Israel, to confront Russia for its use of fossil fuels to “blackmail” European countries.
The memorandum of understanding on gas exports between Egypt, Israel and the EU was signed at the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, the Egyptian petroleum ministry said.
In a joint press conference with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, von der Leyen said the MoU comes as Europe seeks to “get rid of its dependency on Russian fossil fuels”.
Under a landmark US$15 billion (RM66 billion) deal in 2020, Israel already exports gas from an offshore field to Egypt, where it is liquefied and shipped to European countries.
But a significant increase in gas exports from Israel via Egypt would require major long-term infrastructure investments.
Von der Leyen also pledged “immediate relief of €100 million ” to support food security in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, which has relied on Russia and Ukraine for over 80 per cent of its wheat.
She also pledged €3 billion in “agriculture, nutrition, water and sanitation programmes over the next years here in the region”.
Sisi said von der Leyen’s first official visit builds on the recent “intense momentum” of Egyptian relations with the EU.
During her Israel visit, von der Leyen had accused Moscow of deliberately cutting off gas supplied to European countries “in retaliation for our support to Ukraine”.
“This is a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe, but also for Egypt to become a regional energy hub,” she said in Cairo, also highlighting Egypt’s renewable energy potential. — AFP