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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

What we’re tracking on 19 April 2017

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is due in Cairo today for security and defense talks on the second leg of his Mideast tour. In Saudi Arabia yesterday, Mattis suggested the US could provide more assistance to the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, Reuters reports, adding that the defense secretary’s tour “may give clarity on the Trump administration’s tactics in the fight against Islamic State militants and its willingness to use more military power than former President Barack Obama did.” Mattis next heads to Israel and Qatar.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is scheduled to meet with his Ethiopian counterpart in Cairo today to discuss bilateral issues, most notably the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Shoukry is then due in Sudan tomorrow for a meeting of the joint Sudanese-Egyptian consultative committee. Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt says he hopes Shoukry’s visit will help ease recent tensions between the two countries, ostensibly about Shalatin and Halayeb, that have spilled over into visa and trade spats. A visit previously scheduled for earlier this month was postponed.

International travel could get more difficult under the Trump administration. US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said the United States “should review a visa waiver program that gives European visitors easier access into the country as foreign fighters with Islamic State return to Europe and attempt to travel to the US,” Bloomberg reports. Countries in the visa waiver program include the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, South Korea and Japan, among others. The news comes as the US is reportedly looking to fast-track the widespread adoption of facial geometry scans to start using “facial matching systems to identify every visa holder as they leave the country.” The Verge has more.

Tech geeks, take note: Samsung Electronics Egypt will release its Galaxy S8 / S8+ phones here on Wednesday, 3 May, according to Al Mal. Android Central’s extensive review says the extra-tall devices are “a couple of the year’s best phones.”

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