Mexican and Egyptian officials stood united in their resolve to continue bilateral cooperation and finish an investigation into the deaths of eight Mexican tourists in the Western desert at the hands of Egyptian security forces earlier this week.
The Egyptian government’s communication with Mexican officials in the days following the tragic deaths on Monday was full of condolences and promises of a prompt and thorough investigation.
But there were no direct apologies, only promises that investigations are still ongoing in order to determine if there was any wrongdoing.
Eight Mexicans tourists and four others were killed on Monday while on safari in the Western Desert when military forces opened fire on them.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry held a press conference on Wednesday evening with his Mexican counterpart Claudia Ruiz Massieu, in which he promised all necessary support to the Mexican government.
Massieu commended the cooperation of the Egyptian government and said Mexico has agreed to wait for the results of the investigations. Both sides expressed their willingness to move forward in terms of enhancing bilateral cooperation.
“We still do not know if the convoy was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if some error was involved,” Shoukry said in an open letter to the Mexican people, published on the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Facebook page on Tuesday night, with a note that it would also be published in major Mexican newspapers.
Massieu arrived in Egypt early on Wednesday morning to offer support to the victims’ families and to meet with Egyptian government officials in order to obtain information regarding the incident and investigation, according to a statement released by the Mexican Embassy in Cairo.
She also met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and her Egyptian counterpart.
Shoukry opened his letter by offering his sympathies and condolences to the Mexican people, and went on to defend the Egyptian police and military forces, asserting that they are “the most cautious” in preserving innocent lives.
“I am deeply troubled that some people have chosen to exploit this tragic event to allege that Egyptian law enforcement officials have no strict rules of engagement, act indiscriminately, or do not take the necessary precautions during their operations,” he said, adding that this could not be farther from the truth.
Shoukry focused on Egypt’s own experience in dealing with violence and the loss of innocent lives, which he said both countries can relate to. He added that Egypt is in a costly war against terrorism, and Mexico is also suffering losses in its own war with drug cartels.
Although he said the chain of events leading to the deaths of Mexican tourists are still “confusing and unclear,” what is certain is that a military operation against terrorism was in process when the convoy of tourists passed.
Sisi offered his condolences to his Mexican counterpart in a phone call on Monday, reassuring him that he is personally supervising the investigation.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed the “pain and indignation” of Mexican society at the accidental killing of Mexican nationals, as reported by Mexico’s State News Agency.