File Photo US Chief of the US central command meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo
The US chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM) Joseph Votel has stressed that military-to-military exercises strengthen relations between Cairo and Washington, a statement by the US embassy read.
“Egypt is one of our most vital partners in the region,” General Votel said.
Votel was in Egypt for a couple of days to observe joint training exercises between US military forces and the Egyptian armed forces under the umbrella of the Bright Star 2018 exercises at Mohamed Naguib Military Base.
Votel said that during his visit he met with senior Egyptian leaders to "explore ways to enhance the strategic security relationship between Egypt and the United States, a historic partnership which plays a leading role in counterterrorism and regional security."
Votel has also highlighted that around 800 US military service members participated in the Bright Star exercises for the second consecutive year since their reactivation.
The focus this year is on regional security and cooperation, and promoting interoperability in irregular warfare scenarios.
“The Bright Star 2018 exercise promotes our vision of a more stable and prosperous region with increasingly effective governance, improved security, and trans-regional cooperation. CENTCOM sees this expanded joint exercise as vital to securing American and Egyptian interests,” the statement read.
The statement added: "As a partner with Egypt, the United States remains committed to supporting the Egyptian government and people through diplomatic, economic, social and security cooperation."
The Trump administration decided late July to unfreeze $195 million in military aid to Egypt it had previously withheld for a year.
The $195 million in aid was part of the US government’s 2016 fiscal year budget.
The funds are intended for Egypt to buy US-made military equipment.