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Egypt: COP27 Focus should be climate, not jailed activist

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By FRANK JORDANS

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — The focus of the UN conference on climate change should be the negotiations to reduce emissions and not an Egyptian activist who is on a hunger and water strike, Egypt’s foreign minister said Thursday.

Asked about the case of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, where prison authorities intervened medically on Thursday after he went on hunger strike over his imprisonment, Sameh Shoukry, who is both foreign minister and the president of this year’s summit, made clear it was not a priority for him as chair of the 27th annual climate talks, known by their acronym COP27.

“I concentrate on highlighting the importance of the COP and trying to the focus attention of the parties and the international community and the civil society on the existential challenge related to climate change,” he said. “I think it is beneficial for achieving our objectives that we continue to focus on this issue. This is why we are here.”

Numerous foreign leaders including President Emmanuel Macron of France and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have raised the case with Egypt during their visit this week.

Shoukry suggested such concerns could distract from some countries’ failure to live up to their climate commitments.

During the interview, Shoukry also said that going forward drinks would be free for conference attendants and the cost of food would be cut 50%. This came amid complaints from delegates that they were struggling to get food and water during the event.

Shoukry took a swipe at media outlets he said “had decided that the issue of climate change is not as important as the issue of the provision of foods and drink for delegates and for participants.”

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