Yemeni-Egyptian Supreme Committee to Meet Again More Talk, Little Work ! [Archives:1999/05/Front Page]

February 1 1999

Dr. Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani, Prime Minister, plans to travel to Cairo at the head of a large ministerial delegation for a new round of Yemeni-Egyptian talks under the umbrella of the Supreme Joint Committee. The last such talks were held in Sanaa just over a year ago.
Egypt’s Ambassador in Sanaa, Dr. Mahmoud Murtaza, told the Yemen Times that the coming meetings will be a watershed in the bilateral relations. “Our two countries enjoy a special historic bond. Social, cultural, political and economic relations must develop to reflect the special association between the two peoples and nations.”
Notwithstanding the optimism of the ambassador, the various rounds of official top-level talks have so far resulted in little substance. During the last round, for example, several agreements were signed, but none have been implemented. The two nations had sought to strengthen economic ties. Towards that end, they signed an agreement to set up a joint bank capitalized at US$ 100 million. They also called for the establishment of a joint holding company which will supervise joint investments in various fields. One year later, neither project has been launched.
Government officials blame the private sector for not following up their lead. But the private sector in both countries has its own agenda and priorities. “We do not need government officials to lead the way. We actually want them to stay out of our way,” reflected a Yemeni businessman.
Even in the field of information exchange regarding terrorists and religious extremists, cooperation has been minimal. That in spite of a bilateral agreement and the visible threat to which both regimes are exposed.
Dr. Iryani is expected in Cairo around the middle of February, 1999. The specific dates have yet to be pinned down, although the visit itself, it has been agreed, will take place within 2 weeks. Accompanying the prime minister’s multi-minister official delegation will be an entourage of a dozen businessmen.
“Although we have become a routine addition to the delegations headed by the president and prime minister to foreign lands, we are not seen as equal partners. We are not involved in the preparations for such visits, or even in the programs. We are just a useful addendum,” complained a senior official at the Yemeni Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.