US Representative for California and co-chair of the Congressional Egypt Caucus Dana Rohrabacher visited Egypt last week, heading a US delegation that met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. The parties discussed Egypt-US relations after the election of US President Donald Trump.
In an exclusive interview with Al-Ahram daily, Rohrabacher revealed the details of the congressional delegation's second visit to Egypt and its meeting with El-Sisi.
"Everyone in our delegation knows that Egypt and the US are on the edge of a whole new era of cooperation. President El-Sisi's strong leadership here gives him enormous credibility with the new administration in Washington," he said.
"With a new administration and Mr. Sisi's accomplishments, we predict that there will be wide range of cooperation in the coming period between El-Sisi and Donald Trump."
Rohrabacher said the delegation discussed with El-Sisi a variety of topics. "We went into some specifics about how we might work with him to promote an outstanding economy and more jobs… etc. but also more national security issues and economic issues," he said.
"We also spent considerable time talking about the spiritual values of Christians and Muslims and how we can try to work together to build a better world. [El-Sisi] has shown that Christians and Muslims here can demonstrate to the whole world, how people can have good will and work together even if they have religious differences, and have good relations with God by working with others."
The delegation also focused on economic issues, how the US can help Egypt solve its economic problems, and the next phase of cooperation between the two countries.
"You have strong leadership; this is pivotal to any type of economic cooperation because otherwise the money will be wasted and invested money will be wasted. We talked with El-Sisi about very strong and positive relations.
"We can do certain things; for example, we talked about the new Suez Canal. We talked about a vision for the future that will be very positive; some of our delegation mentioned that Egypt and the US can go forward with a free trade agreement.
"President Trump was very clear, unlike his predecessor Barak Obama, that he is supporting bilateral agreements rather than multilateral ones. We think that Egypt will be a perfect first example of bilateral free trade agreement in Middle East," the congressman said.
Rohrabacher also talked to Ahram about the Friends of Egypt caucus in congress, saying "Egypt hasn’t had the attention it deserves and the credit it deserves. I'm a Republican so I will say something that is so political, but I think the last administration had a different philosophical foundation and thus Egypt wasn’t getting the type of cooperation that it should have."
"We recognised that and now we have a new president," he added.
"Our caucus in congress is working on specifics of new legislation. I'm working on the idea of various technologies, every time I met with El-Sisi, we spoke about how to make sure young people here are involved in the same sort of technological progress we've seen in other parts of the world, because Egyptian youth have a different mentality than young people in other Arab countries.
"I think that the Egyptian personality and character would lend itself to the type of technology that will boost the economy and provide jobs."
The delegation also discussed the possible listing of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation by the US congress.
The Republican congressman said "The [Muslim Brotherhood] group led the foundation for all radicalism. We have a president now who is open to the concept of listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group."
*The Arabic version of this interview was first published in Al-Ahram daily newspaper