'Western perspective' on human rights not applicable in Egypt, Sisi tells US delegation

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 May 2016

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Reuters)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told a US congressional delegation in Cairo on Tuesday that the issue of human rights and freedoms in Egypt should not be approached from a "Western perspective" due to differences in challenges and domestic and regional conditions.

Egypt's government is currently facing domestic and international criticism over what numerous rights groups and media outlets have described as human rights abuses and a clampdown on press freedoms.

El-Sisi had said last month in response to the criticism that he understands some Western concerns over the human rights situation, but urged critics to bear in mind that Egypt faces "persistent attempts from evil powers" that aim to isolate the country.

In an official statement by the presidency, spokesman Alaa Youssef said that El-Sisi stated during a meeting with the US delegation – headed by the chairman of the US House Committee on Homeland Security Michael McCaul – that the Egyptian government was committed to the rule of law and upholding the values of democracy.

El-Sisi also stressed Egypt's commitment to cooperating with the US to accomplish mutual goals, especially in light of the challenges the region is currently facing, particularly the threat of terrorism.

The president also talked during the meeting – which was attended by Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and the US ambassador to Cairo R. Stephen Beecroft – about domestic developments and the ongoing efforts to provide security and stability for the Egyptian people.

The congressional delegation arrived in Cairo on Monday for talks with Egyptian officials on bilateral ties and counterterrorism efforts.

Congressman McCaul expressed the US' appreciation of its strategic relationship with Egypt, stressing the importance of Egyptian stability for the US.

Presidency spokesman Youssef added that other members of the congressional delegation praised Egypt's accomplishments in maintaining security, stability and national unity at a time when the region is facing crisis.

According to the spokesman, the meeting involved discussions on countries in the region facing civil conflicts, with El-Sisi stressing the importance of finding political solutions in a way that preserves the countries' national institutions.

El-Sisi warned of the consequences of the "fall of nation states" in the region and the impact that would have on the spread of terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Last month, a congressional delegation headed by US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan met with El-Sisi and parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al on security issues and bilateral cooperation.

The United States provides Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid annually, with the 2016 package including $150 million in economic assistance.

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