Egypt’s Sissi hosts 36 American Jewish leaders
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Egypt’s Sissi hosts 36 American Jewish leaders

Participants mum about details of two-hour conversation, which focused on Israel-Egypt security ties

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on February 11, 2016 (Courtesy)
Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on February 11, 2016 (Courtesy)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met on Thursday with a group of American Jewish leaders for over two hours in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

The 36-strong delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with a series of Egyptian officials, including Sissi, for talks focused on Egypt’s close security cooperation with Israel.

While leaders who took part in the meeting were reticent about what was said, Sissi’s comments were described as “positive.”

“We came away with a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities and how we can play a constructive role in addressing them and fostering international cooperation,” Conference leaders said in a statement.

The statement said the talks “covered a wide range of domestic and international issues, including US-Egyptian and Israeli-Egyptian relations, regional threats, especially those posed by terrorist organizations and their supporters, and Iran post-JCPOA” (the nuclear deal signed last July).

Sissi’s government has closely allied with Israel on key security issues, including Egypt’s war against Islamic State-affiliated jihadists in Sinai and on both countries’ blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The meeting in Cairo comes two days after the American Jewish delegation, led by the conference’s executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his Istanbul residence. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also met the group.

That meeting marked the first time that American Jewish leaders have met with Turkish officials since a 2009 meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where Erdogan angrily denounced Israel over the war with Hamas in Gaza that year, marking the start of a chill in relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.

Erdogan told a Turkish newspaper in December last year that he hoped to reestablish ties with Israel.

“Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” Erdogan told Turkish media in January. “And we, too, must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region. If mutual steps are implemented based on sincerity, then normalization will follow.”

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