Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds talks with Pope Francis at the Vatican during his first European trip since taking over the presidency in May. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Pope Francis on Monday (November 24) met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Vatican. The Pope and Sisi warmly greeted each other before sitting down for talks. According to a statement issued by the Vatican, the talks were focused on the situation in Egypt, with the Pope "emphasizing the closeness and the solidarity of the Church towards the entire Egyptian population during the period of political transition." The Pope also expressed a hope the country, acting within he framework of the new constitution which guarantees the protection of human rights and religious freedom, may "strengthen the peaceful coexistence between all segments of society and continue on the path of inter-religious dialogue," the Vatican said. Pope Francis and Sisi also reviewed several issues of common interest, "with a particular reference to the role of the Egypt in the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa," the Vatican added. Sisi, in an interview with an Italian newspaper on Sunday (November 23), said Egypt would be ready to lend a hand in securing a future Palestinian state by sending in troops that could help out local police and offer Israel security guarantees. Sisi, who is visiting Italy and France this week, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera the creation of a Palestinian state was the best way to protect Israeli security while restoring hope for the Palestinian people. The Egyptian President, who is scheduled to meet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi later on Monday, said any such troop deployment would only be for the time needed to restore trust between the two sides. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, is familiar with some of the territory that would likely make up a future Palestinian state. It ruled the Gaza Strip until the 1967 war. Sisi said he had spoken at length of the idea with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Egypt mediated indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians that led to a ceasefire in August after 50 days of war in Gaza that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis. The visit to Italy and France is Sisi's first European trip since the army overthrew elected President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. Sisi, the former army chief, went on to win presidential elections in May.