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US Congressional Delegation Visits Egypt to Discuss Counterterrorism, Regional Security

US Congressional Delegation Visits Egypt to Discuss Counterterrorism, Regional Security

John Kerry

A congressional delegation from the United States arrived in Cairo on Monday to discuss security and terrorism issues with Egyptian officials, the US Embassy in Cairo announced in a statement.

“The delegation plans to meet with senior Egyptian officials to discuss counterterrorism efforts, the U.S.-Egyptian partnership, and shared interests in regional security and stability,” the statement read.

The 23-member delegation is headed by Congressman Michael McCaul, the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which is mandated with ensuring the Department of Homeland Security “is able to carry out its core mission of protecting the American people from terrorist attacks.”

Monday’s visit comes less than two weeks after US Secretary of State John Kerry paid a short visit to Egypt to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional tensions with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Pointing to the “difficult challenges” that Egypt is facing in terms of threats to its security from extremist groups, he underscored the US’ commitment and desire to help Egypt deal with these challenges, particularly threats from groups such as the Islamic State.

 The three also discussed the Syrian and Libyan situations, with Egypt expressing its desire to strengthen relations with the United States to coordinate in facing such challenges in the “tumultuous” Middle Eastern region.

A congressional delegation, headed by US Senator Lindsey Graham, had also visited Cairo early in April to discuss “shared interests related to security, stability, and the fight against terrorism,” among other aims.

The delegates met with Al-Sisi and Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy to discuss regional security and the development of terrorism in Egypt and the region.

The United States provides USD 1.3 billion in military aid and USD 150 million in economic aid to Egypt every year. While a portion of this aid is contingent on Egypt maintaining certain standards, including the protection of human rights, the Obama administration announced it is seeking to remove this stipulation.

Secretary of State John Kerry defended the proposal by pointing to Egypt’s strategic significance to the US as well as the country’s deteriorating security situation and the rivalry between various global actors to exert influence in Egypt.

“We’ve got a huge interest in making sure that Egypt doesn’t go down into a more difficult status than it is,” he said at the Congressional budget hearing in February.

Egypt has been struggling with a militant insurgency that spiked following the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule. While the insurgency began in the northern region of the Sinai Peninsula, it has since spread to other regions of the country.

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