Friday, December 12, 2014

Senior British MP defends Cairo embassy closure as 'sensible precaution'

A British senior member of House of Commons tells  that the dramatic decision to close the UK embassy in Egypt came in "difficult time"

UK embassy

UK embassy in Cairo suspends public services last week for security reason

 A senior member of the UK House of Commons has defended the decision to closing the British embassy in Cairo as a necessary precaution.

On Sunday, the British embassy suspended its work until further notice “for security reasons,” without giving further details. It has remained closed since.

Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs select committee in the House of Commons, said that the closure was a “sensible precaution.”

Responding to questions, the Conservative MP for Croydon South constituency, said that he believed that the move came at “a difficult time”, referring to heightened security in Egypt and the Middle East.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that there were discussions between the UK authorities and Egyptian officials on ways to reopen the embassy as soon as possible.  

On Monday, the Canadian diplomatic mission took a similar decision, prompting speculation in the Egyptian media as to whether the missions have received militant threats.

It has been reported that the embassies have asked the Egyptian authorities for tighter security measures around their premises.

But Egyptian diplomats have voiced skepticism about the missions’ security fears.

“Security procedures in this area were reinforced … We expect these embassies to reconsider their decisions," Badr Abdel-Atti, the Egyptian foreign ministry’s spokesman said, adding that the embassies’ demands for more security measures “are exaggerated”.

The FCO did not amend its travel advice on Egypt following the closure of the embassy