US Defence Secretary James Mattis (Photo: AFP)
US defence secretary Jim Mattis will visit Egypt on Wednesday 19 April to discuss regional security issues and participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Cairo's Unknown Soldier Memorial in honour of fallen Egyptian soldiers, according to a statement published on the Pentagon's official website on Friday.
Mattis' visit is part of a tour of African and Middle eastern countries aimed at reaffirming key US military alliances, engaging with strategic partners in the region, and discussing cooperative efforts to counter destabilising activities and defeat extremist terror organisations, according to the Pentagon statement.
On 18 April, Mattis will be visiting Saudi Arabia, where he will have "a series of meetings with key international counterparts to strengthen commitments to the US-Saudi security partnership."
Mattis will also visit Israel on 20 April to meet Israeli President Reuben Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Avigdor Lieberman.
On 22 April, Mattis will visit Qatar to meet with "key international leadership and continue efforts to strengthen regional security architectures."
Mattis will end his tour on 23 April with a trip to Djibouti to meet with President Ismail Omar Guelleh to discuss promoting regional stability.
A US Congressional delegation visited Cairo last week where they met with Egyptian defence minister Sedki Sobhi, expressing the US administration's full support of Egypt's war against terrorism and extremism.
American President Donald Trump has said that the US "strongly condemns the terrorist attack" in Egypt on 9 April where two churches in Alexandria and Tanta were hit by suicide bombers.
The deadly blasts at Tanta's Mar Girgis Church and Alexandria's St Mark's Cathedral, where Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II was leading a service, killed at least 47 people and injured more than 100 in the deadliest attack targeting Copts in years.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi visited Washington earlier this month in his first official trip to the US as head of state, where Trump said that he was "very much behind" El-Sisi, who he said has a “great friend and ally in the United States.”