Trump meets Egypt's president to talk ISIS, foreign aid

Cheryl Sanders
April 4, 2017

Speaking through an interpreter, al-Sisi said his meeting hold significance as this is the first visit in eight years from an Egyptian president to the United States.

PRESIDENT ABDEL-FATTAH EL-SISSI: (Through interpreter) I've had a deep appreciation and admiration of your unique personality.

"The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing", New York Times quoted Trump as saying.

"There is a strong U.S. interest in changing the foreign aid equation to focus more on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency", Trager said, "but the only way to do that while protecting her border U.S. -Egypt relationship is bilaterally, and that's something I think the Trump administration understands very well".

El-Sisi was elected president in 2014 in an election many global observers decried as rigged (he won 96.1 percent of the vote, a suspiciously high margin of victory for a country mired in political turmoil).

"We are rejuvenating our military to the highest level", Mr. Trump told el-Sissi.

"I just want to let everybody know that we are very much behind President al-Sisi - he has done a fantastic job in a very hard situation", Trump said.

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).

The Egypt's ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was on the black list for Obama administration, the brutal dictator was never invited by then-times White House because of his poor reputation.

At the top of Sisi's priorities during the meeting will be convincing Washington to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist group", an Egyptian diplomatic source told The New Arab. It receives $1.3 billion annually in aid, plus hundreds of millions in economic assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other programs potentially on the chopping block.

The White House, which recently unveiled a budget that proposes drastic cuts in worldwide aid, has pledged to maintain a "strong and sufficient" level of support for Egypt, without committing to any specific figure.

Rights groups have called for the release of Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American who works with street children and was arrested in May 2014 on human trafficking charges.

Briefing reporters after Monday's White House talks, spokesman Sean Spicer gave no hint of what their collaboration on counterterrorism strategy would look like.

"This will be hard for President Trump to meet", Trager said.

Asked by AFP's Andrew Beatty whether human rights were discussed with el-Sisi, Trump remained quiet.

The greeting stood in stark contrast to Trump's meeting with Angela Merkel a fortnight ago, when the USA president inexplicably failed to shake the German chancellor's hand.

Trump made no mention of human rights in his appearances with Sisi, who has been accused of imprisoning thousands of political prisoners by humanitarian organizations.

"I think in these times, probably more than ever before, or certainly nearly more than ever before, that's what we need", he added.

Other reports by iNewsToday