Egypt's Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki greeted Coptic Pope Tawadros II on the occasion of Christmas, according to a statement by military spokesman Tamer El-Refai on Saturday.
Coptic Orthodox Christians, who make up a substantial majority of all Christians in the country, celebrate Christmas on 7 January, following the Julian calendar.
"It is my pleasure to greet you on the anniversary of the blessed birth of Jesus Christ, and I ask God to restore it to your holiness and the Copts of the nation with health, goodness and blessings," the statement read.
Zaki also expressed his and the armed forces' pride at Tawadros’s “strong national position”, which affirm that the people of Egypt, with its Muslims and Copts, are united in one nation and one hope for the building of Egypt and its glorious history.
"On this occasion, I also pay tribute to the sacrifices of the Coptic armed forces members and their loyalty to the tasks and responsibilities they carry," Zaki said.
Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid, chief of staff of the Armed Forces, also greeted Tawadros II in the same statement.
Zaki issued a directive to congratulate all commanders, officers, non-commissioned officers, military personnel, Coptic soldiers and civil servants on the occasion of the glorious Christmas celebration, as well as the brave Copts of North and Central Sinai.