EU President says Egypt needs support to handle fleeing Gazans

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European Council President Charles Michel will visit Egypt on Saturday and call for support for a country that may have to take in tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing war-torn Gaza, he said Thursday.

“Egypt needs support, so let’s support Egypt,” said Michel, who is in Washington to attend a summit with US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday.

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He added that he would meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his weekend visit.

In addition, Michel will attend at al-Sisi’s invitation a “conference on the current developments in the Middle East, Palestine and the Peace Process,” said his spokesperson, Ecaterina Casinge.

Accompanying Michel to Egypt will be Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Casinge said.

Von der Leyen announced earlier in the week in Tirana that the European Union would open a humanitarian air corridor to the Gaza Strip.

Michel gave strong support to President Biden, who visited Israel on Wednesday and said he had obtained permission from Cairo to let some 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid through, and reiterated the EU’s support for Israel’s right “to defend itself” in accordance with international law.

The Israeli army and the Hamas militant movement in Gaza are blaming each other for the deadly strike on Gaza’s Ahli Arab hospital.

Long-awaited humanitarian aid for Palestinians stranded in the Gaza Strip is set to start flowing on Friday, Egyptian media reported on Thursday, on the 13th day of a deadly war between Israel and Hamas, triggered by the Palestinian group’s attack on Israel on October 7.

The European leader went on to stress the “challenge” posed by the potential influx of refugees into Egypt, and said he expected an “important exchange of information” on the subject on Friday at an US-EU summit in Washington.

Asked whether Europe was speaking with one voice, he replied: “The answer is yes,” citing the unified position expressed by European leaders during a videoconference on Tuesday evening.

The informal European summit aimed to clarify the European position after a series of criticisms of the message sent by the President of the European Commission during her recent visit to Israel.

“We stand with Israel,” Von der Leyen said in a speech to the Hudson Institute think-tank in Washington Thursday, repeating that the nation had a right to defend itself in the face of the “horror” committed by Hamas in its attack.

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