Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to Aqaba, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt to meet with international partners to discuss collaborative efforts to combat emerging transnational threats. The trip was highly successful in reaching agreement on increased training opportunities, information sharing and a general consensus on joint efforts to confront and combat terrorism and transnational smuggling and trafficking.
While in Jordan, Secretary Nielsen participated in the Aqaba Process, during which she met with Jordanian government officials to discuss the importance of a collaborative approach to problems that threaten the safety and stability of our countries, including the spread of terrorism and evolving cyber threats.
The Aqaba Process is a multi-national forum led by His Majesty King Abdullah II to enhance global coordination in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. This session of the Aqaba Process, which included heads of state, government officials and law enforcement officials from throughout the region as well as from Europe and Africa, focused on combatting terrorism in East Africa and developing approaches to countering emerging security challenges.
“As always, King Abdullah II has shown great leadership in hosting the Aqaba Process and bringing together leaders committed to combating terrorism,” said Secretary Nielsen. “The focus on threats in East Africa, and steps taken to confront them, continues to shine a spotlight on an area of the world where the United States and other allies remain committed to making more secure.”
Secretary Nielsen next travelled to Egypt, where she met with senior Egyptian officials on a range of security-related issues focused on terrorism financing, cyber security, border and maritime security, customs modernization, aviation security and law enforcement intelligence sharing.
She met with the Minister of Finance Dr. Mohamed Maait to discuss the necessary steps to conclude a bilateral Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement, as well as, to improve intelligence and law enforcement information sharing in support of border management and criminal investigations. They also identified ways to strengthen customs collections and further facilitate the movement of legitimate trade and travel.
Secretary Nielsen also met with Minister of Defense General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, the head of the Navy Vice Admiral Ahmed Khalid H. Said, the head of the Border Guards Major General Bassem Riyad, and other Defense officials to discuss expanding cooperation on port security and border operations. Together they discussed the importance of continued collaboration to secure the extensive Egyptian borders to prevent the travel of criminals and terrorists.
Additionally, Secretary Nielsen met with the Minister of Civil Aviation Air Marshall Younes il Masry to discuss the recent improvements to Egyptian air cargo screening processes that resulted in the lifting of U.S. restrictions on certain classes of air cargo. They also engaged on future cooperation to address insider threats in the aviation environment, and improve security at key Egyptian airports outside of Cairo.
In meetings with the Chairman of the Administrative Control Authority, Chairman General Sherif Seif Eldien Hussain Kalil, the parties discussed the best practices for combating human trafficking, smuggling, financial crimes, and cybercrime. The Secretary praised the outcomes of recent bilateral collaborations that resulted in successful joint law enforcement action. Both parties agreed that future cooperation will concentrate on technical assistance and training and joint investigations.
In a meeting with Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik, Secretary Nielsen stressed the importance of counter terrorism operations, anti-human trafficking efforts and preventing terrorist travel. The Secretary and the Minister agreed to work together to improve information sharing and identity confirmation practices, including better reporting of lost and stolen passports.
On her final stop in Egypt, the Secretary met with Dr. Ashraf Mohe El Din, the head of the Egyptian Pyramid complex, where they discussed mutual efforts to protect valuable antiquities – including Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations efforts to prevent the smuggling of cultural items and to return such items to their home countries.
“Our Egyptian partners were incredibly generous with their time and as a result we reached consensus on a litany of actions that our two countries will take to better coordinate to secure our homelands,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Efforts to secure air cargo, passengers and borders, to strengthen cyber and financial investigations, and to root out insider threats and corruption make both of our countries more secure and we are thankful for their continuing collaboration on these matters.”