Egypt partnership ‘essential pillar' for America's commitment to region: US defense secretary

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Mar 2023

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tweeted on Wednesday that America’s defence partnership with Egypt is an “essential pillar” of Washington’s commitment to the Middle East.

US Defence Secretary
A still photo of a video posted by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin Twitter account following his arrival in Cairo on Wednesday

 

Austin posted the tweet following his arrival in Cairo, the third stop in his Middle East tour which included Jordan and Iraq. At Cairo International Airport, Austin was received by a host of senior Egyptian military officials.

He said his visit is meant to strengthen coordination on key issues and to pursue opportunities to deepen the "long-standing" partnership with Egypt.

Austin is expected to hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and other high-ranking officials before departing later on Wednesday for Israel, according to AP.

This comes a few days after the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley’s unannounced visit to Israel on Friday to discuss “regional security challenges'' at a time of heightened tensions with Iran and its allies across the Middle East, where he met with senior Israeli military and intelligence leaders at an air base in southern Israel and held a video conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s visit was a day ahead of Milley’s snap visit to Syria on Saturday, where he met US troops stationed in areas of war-torn Syria under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Austin's visit comes amid growing clashes between the Israeli forces and Palestinians over Israel’s repeated deadly raids in the West Bank and its continued demolition of Palestinian homes there.

The latest raid was carried out on Tuesday on the Jenin refugee camp, which left a number of Palestinians killed and wounded.

Egypt has brokered ceasefire agreements in the past two years between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, a role that was praised by several international players, including the US.

The recent confrontation was further triggered by the January storming of Al-Aqsa by a group of Israeli settlers led by Israel's extreme-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, under the protection of Israeli police.

Last week, Ben-Gvir drew widespread local and international condemnation after he called for the wiping out of the Palestinian village of Huwara near Nablus in the West Bank following the killing of two settlers by a Palestinian man in a nearby Israeli settlement.

Cairo has condemned the call as a “dangerous and unacceptable incitement to violence.” It also condemned the storming of the Jenin refugee camp.

Egypt, Jordan, and the US brought together Palestinian and Israeli officials in a meeting in the Jordanian city of Aqaba last week in the hope of ending violence in the occupied Palestinian territories. A second meeting is expected in Egypt in March.​

 

 

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