US defence secretary meets Al Sissi in Egypt

US defence secretary meets Al Sissi in Egypt

US defence secretary arrives in Cairo for Al Sissi meeting

Image Credit: AP

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (4th L) and his delegation, including White House Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell (3rd L), U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft (2nd L) and U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller (L) at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst /// 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

Cairo: US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis arrived in Cairo Thursday on the latest leg of a regional tour, as ties with Egypt continue to warm under President Donald Trump.

After touching down at Cairo airport, Mattis set off to meet President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, who was hailed by Trump during a White House visit earlier this month.

Al Sissi’s visit marked a shift in relations after Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had given the Egyptian leader the cold shoulder for staging the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi in 2013.

Obama temporarily suspended military aid to Egypt following a crackdown on Mursi’s supporters.

Trump, however, has set aside criticism of Al Sissi’s human rights record while pledging to maintain support for the key US ally which receives an annual $1.3 billion in military aid.

After meeting Al Sissi, Mattis is scheduled to hold talks with Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi. He leaves on Thursday afternoon for Israel.

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

In Egypt, talks are likely to touch on the military’s counterinsurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, where Daesh has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

The Pentagon is also concerned with preventing militants from crossing Libya’s porous border with Egypt and the reported presence of Russian troops in Egypt’s western desert, which Cairo has denied.