Egyptian president to make first White House visit in April
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Egyptian president to make first White House visit in April

Trump has praised Sissi, who never found an ally in Obama, as a 'fantastic guy'

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2016 in New York. (AFP/Dominick Reuter)
Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2016 in New York. (AFP/Dominick Reuter)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will reportedly make his first official visit to the White House to meet US President Donald Trump during the first week of April.

The two are expected to hold talks focused on strengthening bilateral relations, particularly on regional issues, according to a report Sunday in the Egyptian daily al-Ahram.

While Sissi was in the US for UN General Assembly meetings in 2014 and 2016, then-president Barack Obama didn’t extend him an official invitation.

In contrast, Trump and Sissi have quickly developed a more positive relationship. The two met on the sidelines of the UN meeting in September 2016 and both want to crack down on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Trump characterized the ex-general, whom rights groups criticize for a repressive human rights record, as a “fantastic guy.”

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference on February 18, 2017 (AFP/Simon Maina)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference on February 18, 2017 (AFP/Simon Maina)

Soon after Trump took office, the White House began discussing its desire to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The move would be welcomed by Sissi, who was condemned by Obama for his harsh suppression of Egypt’s oldest Islamist group.

Sissi was the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump on his election victory, and despite leading a predominantly Muslim state, has refrained from speaking out against the US administration’s travel ban targeting six other majority-Muslim countries.

Washington’s annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt was briefly suspended under Obama in 2013, following the ouster of then-president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian premier is also set to host Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo on Sunday, with the two men expected to discuss Trump’s initiative to re-energize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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