Amid tensions, CIA chief pays surprise visit to Egypt
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Amid tensions, CIA chief pays surprise visit to Egypt

US-Egypt relations have been strained since President Sissi’s 2013 overthrow of elected president Mohammed Morsi

In this image provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, meets with CIA director John Brennan, center, and the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate Khaled Fawzy in Cairo, Sunday, April 19, 2015. (Egyptian Presidency via AP)
In this image provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, meets with CIA director John Brennan, center, and the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate Khaled Fawzy in Cairo, Sunday, April 19, 2015. (Egyptian Presidency via AP)

CAIRO — Egypt’s president has held talks with CIA director John Brennan in Cairo that touched on regional conflicts and terrorism.

A government statement Sunday said the meeting between Brennan and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi focused on “ways of enhancing bilateral relations” and regional issues. It said both sides agreed to continue “consultation and coordination on issues of mutual interest.”

The visit by Brennan was not previously announced.

Egypt remains a key US regional partner, despite tensions following el-Sissi’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, Egypt’s first-ever freely elected leader and a member of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

El-Sissi has been promoting the idea of a pan-Arab military force to intervene in regional conflicts, and is active in the coalition against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Egypt increasingly has been targeted by Islamic militants and its strategic Sinai Peninsula is home to an extremist group that has pledged its loyalty to the Islamic State group.

Egypt’s struggles with regional jihadist forces was highlighted Sunday by the visit to the country of the UK’s Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. The Church of England leader offered his condolences to Egyptian officials over the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians by jihadists in Libya.

The Copts, 20 of them Egyptian, had traveled to Libya for work. They were kidnapped and executed by Islamic State fighters in February, provoking Egyptian air strikes on IS targets in the strife-torn country.

During his one-day visit, Welby met Sissi, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, officials said.

Welby offered his “condolence over the killings” of the Copts, Sissi’s office said in a statement.

He was also to lead a communion service at the All Saints’ Angelican Cathedral in Cairo’s upscale Zamalek district.

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