Egypt has spared no effort in fighting terrorism, extremism, Sisi tells top US general

Menna Alaa El-Din , Sunday 26 Feb 2017

President El-Sisi met with the head of Central Command in Cairo on Sunday

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on February 26, 2017 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (R) meeting with General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo. (AFP)

Egypt "has spared no effort" to combat terrorism and extremism in the past three years, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told the US's most senior military commander in the Middle East on Sunday.

Presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said El-Sisi told Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the commander of Central Command, that the increased threat of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world highlights the importance of increased coordination at an international level to create a comprehensive strategy to face it.

The meeting was attended by Egypt's Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi, as well as the US's envoy in Cairo, R. Stephen Beecroft.

El-Sisi also pointed out the significance of the strategic relations between the two countries, especially in the military field. The cooperation over decades has yielded mutual benefits for the two sides, the region, and the world, El-Sisi reportedly said.

According to the presidency's statement, Votel said the US was adamant on coordinating with Egyptian officials, especially given Egypt's pivotal role in the region, describing the country as one of the most important partners for the US in the region.

The pair also discussed regional issues.

Votel last visited Egypt in August 2016, when he had meetings with senior Egyptian officials to "explore ways to strengthen the US-Egypt partnership in the fight against terrorism and in promoting stability throughout the Middle East region," according to a press release by the American embassy in Cairo.

The Egyptian army and police have been battling an entrenched Islamist insurgency for several years in North Sinai, with hundreds of security forces killed in the attacks.

For the past months, Egypt has received several US delegations to discuss its fight against terrorism, as well as means of cooperation and the bolstering of ties, hoping that the new US administration would bring a new era in relations with Cairo.

In January, US President Donald Trump told El-Sisi his administration is committed to maintaining the US's annual military aid to Egypt.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing that Trump and Sisi "discussed ways to deepen the bilateral relationship and support Egypt's fight against terrorists."

"President Trump underscored the United States remains strongly committed to the bilateral relationship, which has helped both countries overcome challenges in the region for decades," Spicer added.

El-Sisi is expected to visit Washington DC and meet with Trump in March, the first such visit for an Egyptian president since the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt annually receives $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States.


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