Report: Egypt cuts ties with North Korea

South Korean media reports Egypt’s defense minister announced his country has cut military ties with North Korea.

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Elad Benari,

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Egyptian flag
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Egypt’s defense minister announced during visit to Seoul on Tuesday that his country has cut military ties with North Korea, The Associated Press reported, citing South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Egyptian government of the agency’s report, noted AP, but Cairo has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks to sever ties with North Korea.

Last month Washington cut or delayed nearly $300 million in aid to Egypt over its human rights record, but also because of its ties with Pyongyang.

Later, President Donald Trump called Egyptian President AbdelFattah Al-Sisi and stressed he was keen on developing the relationship between their countries and overcoming any obstacles that might affect it.

In an August 24 briefing, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the Trump administration has had conversations with Egypt about the need to isolate North Korea.

Countries that do business with Pyongyang, she warned at the time, enabled money to go into North Korea’s illegal nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

Yonhap’s report on Monday quoted the South Korean Defense Ministry as saying Egyptian Defense Minister Sidki Sobhi told his South Korean counterpart that Cairo had “already severed all military ties with North Korea.”

“Egypt will actively co-operate with South Korea against North Korea acts that threaten peace,” the agency quoted Sobhi as saying.

In Cairo, Egypt’s military spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai would only say that Sobhi discussed military and security co-operation with South Korean officials. He would not elaborate.

Several Egyptian news websites posted Sobhi’s comments only to remove them later. The daily El-Masry El-Youm published his comments in the first run of its print edition, but removed them in later ones, noted AP.

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.

On Monday, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea.

The resolution bans textile exports, cuts off natural gas shipments to North Korea, places a ceiling on deliveries of refined oil products and caps crude oil shipments at their current level.

It also bars countries from issuing new work permits to North Korean laborers sent abroad and seeks to phase out the practice by asking countries to report on the date for ending existing contracts.

The move follows Pyongyang’s sixth and largest nuclear test which occurred last week.