Miércoles, 16 Agosto, 2017

US defence secretary arrives in Cairo for Sisi meeting

US defence secretary arrives in Cairo for meeting with Egypt president US defense secretary arrives in Cairo for Sissi meeting
Eleena Tovar | 21 Abril, 2017, 00:37

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in Cairo on Thursday, state-run MENA news agency reported.

The meeting "addressed aspects of military and security cooperation between the two countries and ways to further enhance them", the president's office said in a statement.

Sisi hosted Mattis at the presidential palace near Cairo as the USA official begins a Middle East tour and said he hoped Egypt could have strong relations with the new US administration.

Trump, however, pledged to maintain support for the key USA ally which receives an annual $1.3 billion in military aid.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama froze aid to Egypt for two years after Sisi, then a general, overthrew President Mohamed Mursi in mid-2013 after mass protests against Mursi's rule.

A USA defence official said Mattis' meetings with Sisi and Egypt's defence minister had focused on building trust to allow for stronger military ties.

Sissi tells Mattis he wants to "strengthen the ongoing military cooperation between the two countries", it says.

Gen Mattis in turn "reiterated the US's commitment to reinvigorating these relations and broadening prospects for cooperation", it added. He will also participate in a wreath laying ceremony at Yad Vashem.

In Egypt, the talks touched on the military's counterinsurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, where a terror ISIS group affiliate has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

The insurgency in the Sinai took off after Morsi was ousted with ISIL increasingly expanding its attacks to other parts of Egypt.

Trump said that the USA "strongly condemn [ed] the terrorist attack" in Egypt on 9 April, in which a church in Alexandria and one in Tanta were hit by suicide bombers.

On Thursday, the Egyptian military said its air force had killed 19 Islamic extremists including a top ISIL cleric in Sinai.

No announcement is expected during the Egyptian leg of the tour, which started with a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Subsequently, on April 22, Mattis will travel to Qatar to meet with "international (regional) leadership and continue efforts to strengthen security architectures" in the area, according to United States official sources.