Obama affirms support for strategic ties with Cairo in call to El-Sisi: White House

Ahram Online, Wednesday 11 Jun 2014

US President Barack Obama telephoned new Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to congratulate him, stress commitment to strategic partnership, White House says

US President Barack Obama addresses a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) at the Akasaka guesthouse in Tokyo April 24, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

US President Barack Obama called on Tuesday Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and asserted his commitment to US-Egypt strategic ties, the White House has said.

El-Sisi was sworn in as president on Sunday after his emphatic victory in last month's election, almost a year after he led the ouster of his predecessor, Islamist Mohamed Morsi, following massive street protests against the latter.

Obama spoke by telephone to El-Sisi to congratulate him on his inauguration and "to convey his commitment to working together to advance the shared interests of both countries," the White House said in a statement.

US-Egypt relations have been strained since Morsi's ouster last summer and an ensuing state crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Washington said in April it would resume part of its $1.5 billion annual aid to Cairo, much of which was held back late last year pending Cairo's progress in democracy and human rights. The resumption includes 10 Apache attack helicopters for counter-terrorism operations in the border Sinai Peninsula. The aircrafts have yet to be delivered.

An additional $650 million promised to the military has been blocked by US lawmakers who said -- against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign against Morsi's Islamist supporters -- they would wait for evidence of Egypt's commitment to democratic rule.

"The president reiterated the United States' continuing support for the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people, and respect for their universal rights," the White House continued.

El-Sisi "expressed appreciation" for the call and welcomed US support for his new administration, the statement added.

The two leaders reaffirmed support for the strategic partnership between their nations and agreed to maintain contact in the near future.

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