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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

El Sisi meets with US Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, Congress members, and King Abdullah of Jordan on fourth day of US visit

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had yet another busy day of meetings on the fourth day of his official visit to DC, which included a sit-down with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the resolution of other political conflicts in the region, an emailed statement said.

Peace between the Israelis and Palestinians also topped the agenda when El Sisi met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, setting off talk in the Arab and Israeli press that the two were chewing over plans for a Middle East peace summit. El Sisi also met with White House National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. HR McMaster to talk cooperation on strategic and security issues, particularly counter-terrorism. The NSC still doesn’t seem to have a website and the State Department hasn’t issued a press release (and doesn’t appear to have done a press briefing since 23 March.)

At Congress yesterday, El Sisi also met with US House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Congressman Ed Royce and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Corker, according to an Ittihadiya statement picked up by Al Mal. The president reassured the officials that more legislative reforms meant to improve the investment climate were underway.

What Ryan said: “After visiting with President al-Sisi in Cairo last year, I enjoyed the opportunity to host him at the Capitol this afternoon. The strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt is essential to securing regional stability and defeating terrorism. The House is committed to building on this constructive cooperation with our Egyptian counterparts in the months and years to come.” The brief statement from the Speaker’s office included a note that other participants in the meeting included House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Speaking of investors: A number of American companies have reportedly expressed interest in expanding their investments in Egypt during their meeting with El Sisi on Monday, Al Ahram says. El Sisi had met with representatives from major US corporations as well as the CEO of the American Chambers of Commerce Thomas Donohue. Meanwhile, a White House readout notes that “Both countries’ economies stand to benefit from further engagement in the years ahead,” especially as Egypt pushes forward towards stability with its “ambitious homegrown economic reform plan, backed by a USD 12 bn agreement with the IMF.”

Investment is more important than foreign aid, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr suggested in a brief chat with Fox News (watch, runtime: 4:49) about the future of US-Egypt relations after the trip. She had announced earlier in the day that a delegation of US investors will visit Egypt “soon,” to look at investment opportunities in East Port Said, New Alamein, the New Administrative Capital, and the Golden Triangle in Upper Egypt. Nasr was careful not to let any details slip on questions of military and economic aid. Pressed on human rights, Nasr maintained that even though “sometimes there are misperceptions about that issue,” Egypt remains committed to progress on that front.

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