Egypt's foreign minister in South Sudan to boost relations

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, Monday to encourage an end to the country's civil war and to give assistance in health and education.

South Sudan is well into its fifth year of fighting and the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, shows no signs of ending.

"Egypt has been a steadfast supporter of the people of South Sudan in their darkest of hours," said Mayiik Ayii Deng, South Sudanese Cabinet minister in the president's office.

During South Sudan's earlier war for independence from Sudan, Egypt accepted South Sudanese refugees and gave them access to education in their universities, for which South Sudan is "forever grateful," said Deng. Currently Egypt has more than 50,000 South Sudanese refugees.

Since 2005, Egypt has supported development in South Sudan and built four electrical stations, as well as schools and medical clinics across the country, said the Egyptian Embassy in a Facebook posting.

Although Egypt is committed to supporting the country's peace process, by providing logistical support such as printers, computers and laptops, it says it's not in favor of an arms embargo.

Earlier this year the United States imposed a unilateral arms embargo on South Sudan to encourage an end to the fighting and there is currently a draft resolution for an international arms embargo that is to be voted upon by the United Nations. Previous attempts at passing the embargo have failed.

"Our position is not in favor of sanctions, we prefer exploring other options first," said an official for the Egyptian Embassy, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted.

This is the Egyptian foreign minister's first visit to South Sudan since 2015. During his one-day visit to the capital of Juba, the Egyptian foreign minister also inaugurated the first kidney dialysis center, which was established by and will be operated by Egypt.

South Sudan is part of a two-country visit by Egypt's foreign minister, who is set to go to Kenya later Monday.