Kerry to meet El-Sisi Sunday as part of Middle East trip

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 21 Jun 2014

It will be the first meeting between Egypt's new president and a senior member of the US government

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo)

Official sources in Cairo said that US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Egypt's newly elected President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday.

The state-owned MENA agency said on Saturday that Kerry will convey a message of greetings on behalf of US President Barack Obama to El-Sisi, who was inaugurated earlier this month.

Other official sources said that two of Kerry's aides have already arrived in Cairo on Saturday to prepare for his visit.

His visit comes just after a meeting between El-Sisi and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on 20 June. The Saudi king was a firm supporter of the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from power in June last year which was led by El-Sisi in his capacity as head of the armed forces. The monarch visited Cairo on Friday to congratulate El-Sisi on his election.

MENA also said that Kerry will also meet with Egypt's new Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, who was Egypt's ambassador to the US between 2008 and 2012.

The US sent a low-profile delegation to attend El-Sisi's swearing-in ceremony on 8 June, and Obama telephoned El-Sisi on 10 June to congratulate him on his election.

On Thursday, Kerry said he would be travelling to Europe and the Middle East this week, primarily to address the recent crisis in Iraq which has seen an Islamist group take over several key cities.

"Over the past 10 days I have been consistently on the phone with a number of our allies and partners inside Iraq, in the region and across Europe as part of a diplomatic effort to resolve this crisis, because we know there is no single military answer," he was reported as saying.

"At President Obama's request, I will take the next step in that diplomatic effort, travelling to Europe and the Middle East to consult with our partners face to face," he added.

Jen Psaki, a State Department spokesperson, said on Friday that "Kerry, at Obama's direction, will be travelling from 22 June through the 27 June to the Middle East and Europe to consult with partners and allies on how the US can support security, stability and the formation of an inclusive government in Iraq, to discuss Middle East security challenges and to attend the NATO foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels.”

In France, Psaki added, Kerry will also meet with key regional partners and allies on the Middle East security challenges, including Iraq and Syria.

Psaki also said Kerry will hold consultations with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, besides visiting Belgium and the NATO foreign ministerial to discuss preparations for the NATO summit in September as well as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Kerry's new foreign tour comes after Obama said on Thursday that he is prepared to send up to 300 US military advisers to Iraq to assist in training and advising Iraqi forces as the tense situation in the country continues to escalate after the Islamic militant group of ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) was able to seize Iraq's second largest city Mosul.

Also on Thursday, speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, said the spread of terrorism has increased exponentially under Obama's leadership. "It's not just Iraq. It's Libya. It's Egypt," Boehner said.

Kerry lastvisitedEgypt on 3 November.

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