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US welcomes Sisi’s economic efforts, supports Egypt's security: Kerry

The meetings were scheduled to take place over two days but the ‎dialogue has been shortened to just one day due to last minute changes ‎

Ahram Online , Sunday 2 Aug 2015
File Photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on the sidelines of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington February 19, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

The US "welcomes" Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's "steps to improve economic conditions," US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday at the start of the US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue.

John Kerry met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. Kerry will also meet with President El-Sisi later today.

In a press conference, Kerry said that the importance of US-Egypt relations "cannot be overstated.”

Kerry expressed the United States’ support for Egypt's economy, saying the US is ready to work with Egypt to "attract more capital.”

In an effort to boost the economy and improve infrastructure, Egypt has been seeking to attract foreign investment since El-Sisi assumed office.

Kerry also addressed security concerns in the region, mainly over the rise of Islamic State group militants, saying his government is "committed to the security… of the Egyptian people."

Meanwhile, Shoukri said that Cairo looks forward to "close cooperation" on the military front which, he said, will help achieve security and enhance economic opportunities for investors.

The meetings were scheduled to take place over two days. However, due to last minute changes, the ‎dialogue has been shortened to just one day. ‎

Some of the meetings that were supposed to take place between the US delegation and representatives ‎of the Egyptian private sector in the Egyptian-US Chamber of Commerce were canceled accordingly. ‎‎

“Meetings will be held between businessmen from both sides, but not as part of the official dialogue,” ‎an official source told Ahram Online.‎

Observers attributed this sudden change to the fact that the dialogue is now focusing more on regional issues rather than a dialogue to strengthen relations between the two states.

The “strategic ‎relations” between the two countries are presently related to the regional political issues, which are a priority for the US administration’s agenda.

The US delegation includes, among others, Charles Rivkin, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, and David Thorne, Kerry's senior advisor.

"The upcoming dialogue is aimed at boosting the bilateral strategic partnership between Egypt and the US, especially after relations between Cairo and Washington became strained during the past two years," foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty stated earlier in press statements last week.

Egypt and the US have maintained a decades-long strategic political and military relationship since 1979, which marked the signing of the peace treaty with Israel. The US provides Cairo with $1.3 billion in military aid annually.

However, US-Egyptian relations became tense when the US maintained a critical position towards the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

In October 2013, the United States announced the suspension of parts of its annual military aid to Egypt in protest of the government's crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters following Morsi's ouster.

But last March, the Obama administration resumed US aid despite its continuing criticism and "concerns" over Egypt's human rights record. 

On 11 June, the US House of Representatives agreed on the budget for the 2016 fiscal year. No changes were made to the amount of military aid to Egypt.

The US sent eight F-16 fighter jets to Cairo on Friday and will send four more this fall as part of the military aid.

The US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue is, according to a statement by the department, a forum that "reaffirms the United States' longstanding and enduring partnership with Egypt.”

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