U.S. delegation in Cairo to meet Egypt’s president, other officials

Sunday 26-06-2016 03:54 PM

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting with Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and other Congressmen - Aswat Masriya

CAIRO, Jun 26 (Aswat Masriya) - A U.S. delegation is currently in Cairo and is set to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other officials, the U.S. embassy in Cairo said on Sunday.

The delegation, which arrived on Saturday and will leave on Monday, is headed by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who chairs the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.

The delegation will discuss with Egyptian officials “the long-standing partnership between the United States and Egypt, efforts to fight terrorism, and shared interests in regional stability and security,” read a statement by the embassy.

Earlier in June, Representative Rohrabacher expressed support for Sisi’s effort in fighting terrorism. "I believe general Sisi, now president al-Sisi wants a democratic Egypt," he said during a subcommittee hearing tackling the challenges and opportunities for U.S. policy in Egypt.

He also said that “president al-Sisi and his democratic allies and the moderate Muslim community there are under attack by the very same terrorists that would again create a caliphate and threaten the entire world," likening the situation in Egypt to the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base of Pearl Harbor amid World War II.

During the same meeting, other congressmen expressed concern over the human rights situation in the country and the crackdown on civil society organisations.

Democrat Representative Gerry Connolly said then that though some want to view Egypt as “bulwark” against extremism, he believes that the path Sisi has gone “will not yield that result, will do the opposite”.

Last April, the U.S. State Department criticised Egypt's human rights record in its Human Rights Practices report, highlighting alleged restrictions on academic freedom and civil society as well as impunity for security forces.

Prior to release of the aforementioned report, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern over what he described as the deteriorating condition of human rights in Egypt following the Egyptian authorities' decision to reopen investigation into a high-profile NGO foreign funding case.

The case dates back to 2011 when Egyptian authorities raided several NGOs and launched an investigation into allegations of receiving foreign funds. Forty-three Egyptians and foreigners were convicted in the case in 2013. At the time Kerry described the case as being "politically motivated".     

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.

The U.S. resumed its military aid in March 2015, after a temporary and partial suspension in the wake of the Egyptian military ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, in July 2013. Mursi had faced mass protests against his rule.

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 described Sisi as "the right man at the right time."

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