The US and Egypt have agreed to work together in combating terrorism and restoring peace in the Middle East, as President Donald Trump “strongly backed” his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, disregarding the human rights concerns over the ex-general’s regime.
Trump and Sisi held a series of meetings at the White House on Monday and expressed their mutual interest in supporting the Israelis and Palestinians in moving toward a genuine and lasting peace.
Sisi is on his first six-day visit to the US as Egyptian President during which he is expected to meet top US leaders. Hosni Mubarak was the last Egyptian president who was at the White House in 2010 to attend Middle East peace talks. “We will do that together. We will fight terrorism and other things. And we’re going to be friends for a long, long period of time. We have a great bond with the people of Egypt,” Trump said in his joint media appearance with al-Sisi at the Oval Office.
“I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President al-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. We have strong backing,” Trump said.
The two leaders agreed on the critical importance of advancing peace throughout the Middle East including in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the White House said. “The United States and Egypt stand fully committed to addressing critical bilateral and international issues in a spirit of mutual respect and open cooperation,” a readout of the meeting said.
“Trump reaffirmed our deep and abiding commitment to Egypt’s security, stability, and prosperity, and pledged continued support to Egypt’s ongoing fight against terrorism and Egypt’s historic economic reform programme,” it said. The two leaders also agreed to continue with coordinating military, diplomatic and political efforts to defeat terrorism.
Both recognised that terrorism cannot be defeated solely by military force and pledged to explore ways to address the economic, social, political and ideological factors that fuel terrorism, the White House said.
During their interactions, Trump applauded al-Sisi’s “courageous efforts” in promoting moderate understanding of Islam, the White House said, adding that they agreed on the necessity of recognising the peaceful nature of Islam and Muslims around the world.
Sisi’s arrival at the White House marks a reversal of US policy after President Barack Obama refused to invite him because of concerns over human rights violations. Trump and Sisi also agreed on the importance of deepening bilateral economic and commercial ties.
American and Egyptian companies have built deep trade and investment relationships and both countries’ economies stand to benefit from further engagement in the years ahead, it said.
Egypt’s ambitious homegrown economic reform plan, backed by a USD 12 billion agreement with the IMF, will help stabilise its economy and set the foundation for private sector-led growth and prosperity, the White House said. “The two presidents had an honest discussion focused on areas of cooperation. The president made clear that this is a new day in the relationship between Egypt and the US and the president affirmed his strong support of the Egyptian people,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
Egypt is battling an IS affiliate groups in its restive northern Sinai Peninsula where a number of attacks on the military has killed a number of soldiers in recent months.