U.S. congressional delegation discusses counterterrorism in Cairo

Monday 02-05-2016 02:09 PM

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday Apr.20, 2016. Presidency handout

CAIRO, May 2 (Aswat Masriya) – A U.S. congressional delegation has arrived in Cairo on Monday to discuss with Egyptian officials counterterrorism efforts and regional stability and security, the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

Congressman Michael McCaul, the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security at the House of Representatives, and an accompanying delegation will meet with "senior Egyptian officials," the embassy added in the statement that was published on its website.

The House committee headed by McCaul “has oversight of the Department of Homeland Security ensuring it is able to carry out its core mission of protecting the American people from terrorist attacks.”

Egypt is battling a wave of militancy which intensified in 2013 with the military ouster of then-President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood group following mass protests against his rule.

Today’s congressional visit comes while a number of journalists are staging a sit-in at the press syndicate to protest the alleged storming of the syndicate’s headquarters by the police and the arrest of two fellow journalists on Sunday. The interior ministry denied today storming the embassy or using force to arrest the two journalists, who are accused by prosecutors of “inciting protests”.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said his country is “deeply committed to the stability of Egypt” during a short visit he made to Cairo where he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Egyptian foreign minister.

Kerry also mentioned "differences" between the two sides over the internal situation in Egypt. 

Earlier in April, the U.S. Department of State highlighted in a global report the human rights “problems” in Egypt, which included restrictions on academic freedom and civil society as well as the impunity for security forces and harsh prison conditions. 

Egypt receives $1.3 billion of military aid from the U.S. annually, which makes it the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel. 

But Egyptian-U.S. relations have been strained since Sisi led Mursi’s ouster in 2013. Sisi was the country’s defence minister at the time before he was elected president in 2014.

Washington temporarily suspended its military aid to the Middle Eastern country in October 2013, then it resumed the aid in full in March 2015.

Several delegations from the U.S. House and Senate have visited Egypt in the past months. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham sparked anger from local and international human rights groups, during a Cairo visit he led on April 3, when he said that Egypt's Sisi is "the right man at the right time."

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