Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday discussed ways to boost the fight against terrorism and extremism, Reuters reports.
Trump told Sisi in a telephone call that he appreciated the difficulties faced by Egypt in its “war on terror”, and affirmed his administration’s commitment to supporting the country, Sisi’s spokesman Alaa Youssef said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
“The U.S. president also expressed during the call his looking forward to the president’s awaited visit to Washington which is being prepared for through diplomatic channels,” the statement said.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed the conversation took place, telling a news briefing that Trump and Sisi “discussed ways to deepen the bilateral relationship and support Egypt’s fight against terrorists.”
“President Trump underscored the United States remains strongly committed to the bilateral relationship, which has helped both countries overcome challenges in the region for decades,” Spicer added.
Spicer stressed that Trump indicated to Sisi he was committed to ensuring that U.S. military assistance to Egypt effectively supports the Egyptian military’s fight against terrorism.
Sisi had strained relations with former President Barack Obama’s administration. In 2013, shortly after Sisi and the Egyptian army ousted then-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Obama suspended American military aid to Egypt. He released the aid two years later.
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a “coup” and had been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
Things appeared to be headed in a different direction after Trump’s election, when Sisi praised the new president and said he expected greater engagement in the Middle East from his administration.