Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has met on Monday with the United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump in the first visit of an Egyptian state head since 2009.
As the two met in the White House, Trump said that Al-Sisi has been very close to him since he was a presidential candidate, further adding that he surmises that Al-Sisi preferred him over the other presidential candidate (referring to Hillary Clinton).
Trump went on to say that the U.S. will support Egypt, “you have a great friend and ally in the U.S. and me”. The U.S. president further added that they are building the strongest armed forces and they will together fight and combat terrorism.
Al-Sisi said that when he met Trump in September, while he was a presidential candidate, he knew that he was meeting an extraordinary character, especially when it came to Trump’s vision on combating terrorism.
Al-Sisi further stressed that he will be very supporting in finding a solution to the conflict of the century (referring to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict).
Trump had taken to Twitter before the meeting and said, “Getting ready to meet President Al-Sisi of Egypt. On behalf of the United States, I look forward to a long and wonderful relationship.”
Al-Sisi met on Sunday with the chairman of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim to discuss the economic reform program undertaken by the Egyptian government and means of enhancing cooperation between Egypt and the World Bank in different economic fields. Al-Sisi further added that Egypt aims to receive about $US 9 billion during 2017.
Al-Sisi also met with members of the Egyptian diaspora, he told them that they are the bridge between Egypt and the world. He added, “We need you because you are our family, to let people know the truth because what is being said about Egypt is not true. We are building a new Egypt.”
Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. Yasser Reda said that Al-Sisi’s visit to Washington is a step closer towards warm relations between the two countries. Reda said, “The Egyptian president has a special influence and charisma because he is honest and doesn’t sugarcoat the truth.”
Several supporters of Al-Sisi from the Egyptian diaspora in the U.S. have gathered in front of the White House during the meeting. However, rights groups have protested the visit and addressed Trump to tackle the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt, they also called for the release of political activists.
International Rights Organisations (HRW) commented on the visit saying that the visit has come at a time when the situation of human rights in Egypt has hit its rock bottom.
While the relationship between Egypt and the U.S. has warmed after Trump took office as president, Trump’s administration has decided to limit the budget of the military aid to other countries. The budget of Israel’s military aid has stayed the same, but the budget of Egypt and Jordan are still not
The relationship between Egypt and the U.S. was strained under the administration of former U.S. president Barack Obama. In 2013, when the former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the Armed Forces, Obama decided to cut the military aid to Egypt. The Obama administration further described the Rabaa sit-in dispersal as a “Massacre”. However, Obama had to restore the military aid to Egypt in 2015 due to the growing threat of the Islamic State (IS) in the region.
Obama has never invited Al-Sisi to visit the U.S. and made it clear that he is opposing the Egyptian president, which was the Democrats strategy.
While attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2016, Al-Sisi met with then-presidential candidate Trump. Al-Sisi and Trump favourably viewed each other, with Trump never touching upon the human rights record of Egypt.
Al-Sisi said, following his meeting with Trump in September, that he is positive that Trump will make a strong president, while Trump described Al-Sisi as a “fantastic guy”.