(Bloomberg) -- Egypt’s foreign minister said his nation wasn’t offered help with its debts by the US and Israel in return for taking in Palestinians fleeing war-torn Gaza, a potential mass displacement the cash-strapped North African country has repeatedly rejected.

Sameh Shoukry’s remarks Thursday came in response to reporters’ questions on whether Egypt had come under pressure to allow in large numbers of Palestinians fleeing the conflict on its northeast border. Speaking in Cairo, he also said Egypt was working with its international partners to try and secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas militants in the besieged territory.

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and other officials have strenuously ruled out any notion of Gazans being relocated to the bordering Egyptian area of North Sinai, saying such a move may both pose a security threat and undermine Palestinian hopes for their own state. 

Bloomberg reported last month that Israel’s government had spoken to counterparts in several countries about Egypt temporarily housing Palestinians fleeing the violence. The idea has prompted an outcry from Arab powers, who are among countries calling for an immediate cease-fire amid a mounting civilian death toll in Israel’s war with Hamas. The US and European Union designate Hamas a terrorist group.

Mired in its worst economic crisis in years, Egypt is one of the Middle East’s most indebted countries and spends nearly 10% of gross domestic product on interest payments alone, according to Bloomberg Economics.

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