ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Obama meets with el-Sissi, says Egypt key to Mideast security

Two presidents hold first ever face-to-face talks, on sidelines of UN General Assembly

US President Barack Obama meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, left, Thursday, September 25, 2014, in New York. (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, left, Thursday, September 25, 2014, in New York. (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

NEW YORK — US President Barack Obama on Thursday touted the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt as a cornerstone of American security policy in the Middle East.

Obama met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings. It was the first face-to-face meeting between Obama and el-Sissi, who was elected earlier this year.

Prior to the meeting, Obama said the two leaders planned to discuss a range of security issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Libya, and the Islamic State terrorist group wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

A former army general, el-Sissi has faced international criticism for his ouster last year of Egypt’s first freely elected president. US-Egypt ties have been strained since the ouster but the US has sought to urge Egypt to pursue a more democratic system.

In June, Secretary of State John Kerry’s met with el-Sissi for the first time, and US officials revealed that $572 million in aid, which had been frozen since October following an Egyptian crackdown on protesters, was released to Egypt after a green light from Congress. It will mainly go to pay existing defense contracts.

US officials said in April they planned to resume some of the annual $1.5 billion in mostly military aid to Cairo, including 10 Apache helicopter gunships for counter-terrorism efforts in the Sinai Peninsula.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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