Egyptian, US defence ministers affirm commitment to military cooperation as ‘cornerstone of strategic partnership’
In a phone call on Thursday, Austin thanked Egypt for its leadership role in the region and vital assistance in securing the recent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, said a readout of the call published by the US Department of Defence.
A Cairo-brokered ceasefire between the Israeli and Palestinian sides in Gaza came into effect late on Sunday. The ceasefire ended three days of renewed conflict between Israel and Islamic Jihad in the enclave with Israeli bombardment claiming the lives of 43 Palestinians, including children.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden thanked President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the senior Egyptian officials who played a “central role” in the diplomacy of the Gaza ceasefire, saying the US has worked with officials from Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Jordan and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict.
Zaki and Austin spoke about the strong defence relationship between their two countries and discussed shared security objectives and regional challenges across the Middle East and North Africa, the readout said, without further elaboration.
Austin expressed US concerns regarding Russia’s “unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine, said the readout.
For decades, Egypt and the US have shared firm relations in the political and security fields as well as in the economic, scientific, educational, and cultural areas. The two countries have also maintained coordination on counterterrorism, border and maritime security and security cooperation and have continued to consult on regional issues, especially the Palestinian cause.
Egypt and the US celebrated the centennial of their diplomatic relations this year and held in November last year their first strategic dialogue since 2015, during which they discussed enhancing economic, commercial, defence, diplomatic, judicial, educational, cultural, scientific and political cooperation.
Concerning defence and security cooperation, Egypt commended in November the US role in economic development in Egypt and its supply of defense equipment and joint cooperation to reinforce Egypt’s defence capabilities.
The US has been the main arms exporter to Egypt between 2000 and 2019 at about 41.6 percent followed by Russia at a share of about 25 percent, according to 2021 data by the German data base company Statista.
In January, the US administration approved a massive $2.5 billion arms sale to Egypt, including 12 Super Hercules C-130 transport aircraft, saying the deal would support the US foreign policy and national security by helping to improve the security of Egypt.
The US is also one of Egypt’s largest trade partners, ranking second after China in 2019. Egypt-US trade volume amounted to $8.7 billion in 2019, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham).