Western countries haven’t helped in terror war: Egypt

Passengers after arriving from Egypt at the Domodedovo airport outside Moscow.

Passengers after arriving from Egypt at the Domodedovo airport outside Moscow.

Egypt’s foreign minister complained on Saturday that Western governments had not sufficiently helped Egypt in its war on terrorism and had not shared relevant intelligence with Cairo regarding the Russian airplane that crashed last week in the Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard.

Sameh Shoukry, speaking at a press conference, said that “European countries did not give us the cooperation we are hoping for.”

Egypt’s past calls for assistance and coordination on terrorism issues from “the countries that are now facing the danger” had not been dealt with seriously, he said.

Shoukry also complained that Western nations that have suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh did not share with Cairo the relevant intelligence upon which they based their decisions.

US and British officials have cited intelligence reports as indicating that the Russian flight from the Sinai resort town to St. Petersburg was brought down on Oct. 31 by a bomb on board.

Shourky told reporters that Egypt “expected that the information available would be communicated to us instead of being broadcast” in the media.

The officials said that authorities were questioning airport staff and ground crew who worked on the Russian flight and had placed some employees under surveillance.

Russia will send 44 planes to repatriate its nationals, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency said.

The nearly 80,000 Russian tourists can return at their own pace in the wake of the crash. “There will be no evacuation,” Irina Tyurina, a spokeswoman for the Russian Union of the Tourism Industry, said, adding that most of the Russian holidaymakers were staying in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

Empty planes will be sent to Egypt to bring Russian holidaymakers home, but they will be able to return at their own pace, officials said.

“Tourists will be returning from Egypt to Russia when they planned to,” said Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is in charge of a task force set up to oversee the return of tourists.

“Most people left for two weeks — our usual holiday tour lasts two weeks — therefore they will return in about two weeks,” he said in televised comments late Friday.

In a statement, the Labor Ministry warned companies against taking any disciplinary action against employees who are now in Egypt and may be unable to show up for work on time.

Following Britain’s example, Russia said that holidaymakers would be returning home without their hold luggage, which will be brought back to the country separately.

Tour operators are proposing to Russians who have bought packages to Egypt that they travel to Turkey instead, tourism officials said.

An official of the Russian Union of Travel Industry refused to say whether she expected any tour companies to go bankrupt as a result of the crisis. “Of course, it is a serious situation for tour operators,” she acknowledged.

A top Russian official said Egypt’s military has taken control of registering departing passengers for flights out of the country.


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