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Thursday, 6 April 2017

El Sisi’s Fox News interview hits the screens, President meets with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, US Defense Secretary, and National Intelligence Director on fifth day of visit

El Sisi’s interview with Fox News aired last night: FoxNews’s Bret Baier sat down with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi for a brief interview in which the president was asked about everything from aid to human rights to his opinion on US foreign policy toward the Middle East and the changes he expects to see under the Donald Trump administration.The interview doesn’t break much in the way of new ground, but El Sisi did insinuate that US policy on the region in the last four years have been less than satisfactory, noting that he was already seeing a shift in direction under new leadership and explaining that he believes Trump truly grasps the complexity of the situation in the region. As for Russia’s involvement in the Middle East, El Sisi said that the country is merely protecting its regional interests at a turbulent time. On the question of military and economic aid, the president said that he has faith in Trump’s promise to fully support Egypt. Pressed on human rights in general — and the trial of US citizen Aya Hijazi in particular — the president told Baier that his administration operates within its legal bounds to protect national security and stability. You can watch the full interview here (runtime 15:55).

El Sisi stopped by the Pentagon on Wednesday, where he met with US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said he plans on visiting Egypt soon to resume talks on military cooperation, according to Ahram Gate’s pickup of an Ittihadiya statement. US National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and IMF Director Christine Lagarde also visited El Sisi in DC yesterday.

Ittihadiya also released yesterday a readout (pdf) on the president’s meetings with US congressional leaders as well as a series of images from those meetings (here, here, here, here, here and here).

Arab-American-Israeli Summit in July: The White House will host an Arab-American-Israeli peace summit in July that will see Trump, El Sisi, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II sit down with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to further discussions on the Middle East peace process, diplomatic sources tell AMAY.

More news has been filtering in on the Egyptian delegation’s trade talks in DC, where US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross reportedly agreed to holding a new round of negotiations over the Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA) as a precursor to a potential free trade pact, El Watan reports. The meeting also looked at expanding Egypt’s agricultural exports to the US to include green beans, mangoes, and peppers, in addition to increasing the citrus exports. Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil had been pushing to reduce the mandatory Israeli content in goods exported to the States under the QIZ program to 8% instead of the current 10.5%,.

…Walt Disney reportedly came up during trade talks, but El Watan has little in the way of details. We had noted last month that Disneyland had cut off 28 Egyptian textiles exporters.

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