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Merkel meets with Egypt's religious leaders


German chancellor Angela Merkel met with Egypt’s top religious leaders on Thursday during her visit to the capital, Cairo.

She met with a leader considered a Sunni Islam’s to theologian, Grand Immam Sheikh Ahmed al-tayeb.

And the head of the religious institution Al-Azhar, and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, the leader of Egypt’s estimated 8 million Christians.

During her meeting with the Coptic Pope at the Abbasiya Cathedral, the German leader laid flowers at a mural which paid tribute to Copts killed in church attacks.

Tension have been mounting between the two religious groups following a series of attack on Coptic churches after the downfall of Egypt’s former long-term President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday said Germany is interested in helping Egypt strengthen its coastguard and clamp down on illegal trafficking across the Mediterranean, which leads to thousands of deaths each year.

Germany also intends to work together more closely with the two countries to curtail overall immigration from Africa to Europe.

Merkel’s meetings with the religious leaders followed bilateral talks with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
She had discussed ways to boost German investment in Africa, slow the flow of migrants into Europe and increase intelligence-sharing to combat Islamic militants.

She is expected to depart to Tunisia on Friday to meet Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

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