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Egypt's Sisi and US Defense Secretary Mattis discuss boosting military cooperation to fight terrorism

Ahram Online , Thursday 20 Apr 2017
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in Cairo on Thursday 20, April (Photo: Egypt's Presidential spokesperson Facebook page)
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Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi received US Defense Secretary James Mattis in Cairo on Thursday to discuss boosting military cooperation between Washington and Cairo.

Mattis arrived in Cairo for a one day visit coming from Saudi Arabia, on a tour of the region that also includes Israel, Qatar and Djibiouti.

Presidential Spokesperson Alaa Youssef said the officials discussed the special and strategic ties binding the two countries, with El-Sisi affirming Egypt's keenness to strengthen cooperation under the new administration of President Donald Trump.

The meeting was attended by Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhi, US Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell and US Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft.

The Egyptian president focused on the pressing need to dry up funding for terrorism and convey a strict message to countries that support terror groups or supply them with fighters and/or arms.

Mattis expressed Washington's desire to push cooperation between the two countries to new levels in order to overcome unprecedented challenges facing the region.

On his first visit to Cairo as defense secretary, Mattis emphasised Egypt's pivotal role in the Middle East and in settling disputes in the region, as well as the country's counter-terrorism efforts.

After the meeting with Sisi, Mattis held talks with Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi at the Ministry of Defence, where he was received by a marching band playing the US national anthem.

"We've always had an open relationship," the US official told Sobhi.

Mattis also participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Cairo.

The U.S. Defense Secertary's visit to Cairo is part of a tour 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 minister Sobhi. The delegation expressed the current US administration's full support for Egypt's war against terrorism and extremism.

Trump has said that the US "strongly condemns the terrorist attack" in Egypt on 9 April, in which a church in Alexandria and one in Tanta were hit by suicide bombers. 

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