There has been no public clarification from the British or Canadian embassies on a date for the resumption of their public services. Without commenting on the exact nature of the issue, a British Embassy press officer stated that security talks are ongoing with the Egyptian Interior Ministry.
“We are continuing to work closely with the ministry and are grateful for the support,” the press officer commented, echoing previous statements.
The British Embassy’s official website maintains that public services are closed indefinitely, despite the Consulate office in Alexandria remaining open throughout.
The Canadian Embassy’s telephone lines remain unanswered.
There were conflicting reports in local media about an explosion outside the British Embassy on Friday. Whilst state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported that the engine of a Central Security Forces had vehicle exploded, state-owned Ahram Gate claimed that a police vehicle was engulfed by fire after a tear gas canister was discharged accidentally by a conscript.
The British Embassy suspended its public services last Sunday, with the neighbouring Canadian Embassy closing the following day, both for ‘security reasons’. The moves were also accompanied by the Australian government increasing its travel warning to citizens, advising of a high threat of terrorist attacks. However, the near-by US Embassy has remained open throughout.
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the UK Foreign Affairs select committee in the House of Commons, told Ahram Online that the closure was a “sensible precaution” in a “difficult time”.
Last week Badr Abdel Ati, the foreign ministry spokesman, commented that Egypt “will not accept exaggerations in any [security] demands,” in an interview with a local television station. Foreign minister Sameh Shoukry on Wednesday maintained that the interior ministry has taken all necessary measures to secure the area.
Also, on Wednesday local newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that the government was looking into creating a new district specifically for embassies and diplomatic missions in the north-east of the city beginning early 2015.