U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis travelled on Thursday from Saudi Arabia to Cairo, where he is set to meet with Egyptian officials to continue boosting bilateral relations and discuss US support for Egypt's counter-terrorism efforts after the election of President Donald Trump.
Mattis is expected to meet with Egypt's Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who visited the White House earlier this month as the first Egyptian leader to do so since former U.S. President Barack Obama hosted Hosni Mubarak in 2009.
The secretary's visit is part of a tour of African and Middle Eastern countries aimed at reaffirming key US military alliances, engaging with strategic partners in the region, and discussing cooperative efforts to counter destabilising activities and defeat extremist terror organisations, according to a statement from the Pentagon.
Mattis will visit Israel after Cairo to meet Israeli President Reuben Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
On 22 April, Mattis will visit Qatar to meet with "key international leadership and continue efforts to strengthen regional security architectures," the statement added.
He will end his tour on 23 April with a trip to Djibouti to meet with President Ismail Omar Guelleh to discuss promoting regional stability.
A US Congressional delegation visited Cairo last week where they met with Sobhi, expressing the US administration's full support for Egypt's war against terrorism and extremism.
Trump said that the US "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.