Egyptian government denies report that a shipment of weapons from North Korea was destined for its military.
By Elad Benari – Arutz Sheva
The Egyptian government on Monday denied that a shipment of weapons from North Korea was destined for its military, AFP reports.
The newspaper cited U.S. officials and Western diplomats familiar with the findings who remained anonymous.
The Egyptian foreign ministry denied the report on Monday. In a statement sent to AFP, spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid “categorically denied what the (Washington Post) report mentioned regarding Egypt being the destination for the shipment.
“The sanctions committee report did not indicate that the shipment was destined for Egypt,” he added, referring to a UN report mentioned in the Post story.
“The shipment that was confiscated was not destined for Egypt,” said Abu Zeid, adding, “Egyptian authorities indeed intercepted a ship flying the Cambodian flag before it entered the southern entrance of the Suez Canal, following information that it was carrying anti-tank rockets from North Korea in violation of (UN Security Council) sanctions.”
“Egyptian authorities indeed confiscated the shipment and destroyed it in the presence of a team of experts from the 1718 committee overseeing the UNSC sanctions on North Korea,” said the foreign ministry spokesman.
Abu Zeid added that “the head of the UNSC North Korea sanctions committee has lauded Egypt’s efforts.”
Reports last month indicated that Egypt’s defense minister announced during visit to Seoul that his country had cut military ties with North Korea.
There was no confirmation from the Egyptian government of the report, but Cairo has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks to sever ties with North Korea.
Egypt has for decades maintained close ties with North Korea, with Pyongyang selling weapons to Egypt and upgrading its arsenal of medium-range, ground-to-ground missiles. However, last month’s report said the U.S. had been pressuring Egypt to cut those ties. The report said that Washington’s decision to cut or delay nearly $300 million in aid to Egypt was not only due to its human rights record, but also because of its ties with Pyongyang.