BRUSSELS (EJP)---Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is set to seek increased aid and investment from Europe for his country’s beleaguered economy when he visits Brussels on Thursday on his first trip to Europe since his election in June.
The Islamist president "wishes to talk about the support of the European Union during this transition period" for Egypt, his spokesman Yassir Ali said.
He wants to "give impetus to cooperation with the European bloc and discuss potential investment in Egypt," he added.
Morsi will meet EU President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
His talks at the EU will focus on the economy in addition to political and diplomatic topics.
Morsi's visit will be clouded by attacks on Wednesday against the US embassy in Cairo when protesters against a United States-made film depicting the Prophet Mohammad scaled the embassy’s walls and tore down the American flag.
In Libya, gunmen attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and killed the US Ambassador and three other diplomats.
"The political context of this visit is very important," a senior EU official said.
"Egypt is now debating its future constitution which will be key for the country and we hope a reference for the rest of the Arab countries," an eu official said.
The European Union is Egypt's largest trading partner, accounting for a third of the country's foreign trade.
In 2011, Egypt imported EU goods worth 13.9 billion euros ($17.9 billion), European statistics show.
Combined with Egyptian exports to the EU of 9.4 billion euros ($12.1 billion), this brings the volume of trade to 23.2 billion euros -- more than double the 11.5-billion-euro figure of 2004.
The European Union is very much looking forward to President Morsi's first visit to Brussels, as it is an opportunity at the highest level to reiterate the EU's support for Egypt's democratic transition and our eagerness to engage with the country's new civilian authorities in furthering our partnership," the EU said in a statement.
The EU also stressed "the fundamental importance of a speedy finalisation of a new constitution that safeguards the rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, and the holding of parliamentary elections as soon as possible afterwards that will complete the process."
The EU plans to contribute loans and grants but has not yet decided how much, according to a senior EU official
Calling this visit «historic», he EU stressed that this is the first trip to the West by the first democratically elected Egyptiann President.
«Egypt is a key player in the Middle East and has an important positive regional role to play,» he added.
Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, has pledged that he will respects his country's international agreements including the landmark peace treaty with Israel.
After Brussels Morsi will fly to Rome, one of Egypt's most important economic partners in Europe, where he will meet Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Mario Monti.