Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1378, (25 -31 January 2018)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1378, (25 -31 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Reconnecting with Washington

Terrorism, Jerusalem and cooperation topped discussions between President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and US Vice President Mike Pence, Reem Leila reports


Al-Sisi and Pence during their meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo this week   (photo: AFP)
Al-Sisi and Pence during their meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo this week (photo: AFP)

US Vice President Mike Pence finally made it to the Middle East this week on a three-leg tour which began in Cairo and ended in Israel. Pence’s visit, initially scheduled for December last year, was delayed following US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Meeting with Pence on Saturday, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said Egypt remained committed to the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. He told Pence the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will only be resolved through negotiations based on a two-state solution and Egypt will spare no efforts to support such a solution.

According to Reuters, Pence told reporters following his meeting with Al-Sisi that the US was committed to preserving the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem and had come to no final resolution on boundaries for the two parties. “My perception was that he was encouraged by that message,” said Pence.

Al-Sisi and Pence also addressed regional terrorism during their talks. Al-Sisi reviewed Egypt’s counter-terrorism efforts, the burdens the Egyptian people face and the sacrifices they have made.

Pence pledged US support for Egypt’s fight against terrorism.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with you and Egypt in fighting against terrorism,” Pence told Al-Sisi, adding “our hearts grieve” for the loss of life in recent terrorist attacks against Egyptians.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of terrorist attacks since Mohamed Morsi was removed as president in 2013. In November more than 300 were killed at a mosque in North Sinai. In April 2017 twin suicide bombings left 45 dead and 120 injured at churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

Pence pointed to Trump’s efforts to strengthen ties with Egypt in his first year in office, “after a time when our countries seemed to be drifting apart”.

Relations have been strained since the US cut $100 million in economic aid and withheld $200 million in military in September 2017.

President Al-Sisi briefed Pence on Egypt’s economic reform efforts and development plans and welcomed the participation of US companies in ongoing projects.

“The US regards Egypt as a significant strategic partner in the region,” said Pence. He stressed Washington is keen to enhance cooperation with Egypt across all levels given its key role in the Middle East and the immense challenges the region is facing.

During the visit President Al-Sisi said Egypt looked forward to continuing dialogue and discussion with Washington on both the bilateral and regional levels to better enable the region to overcome the challenges it faces and promote security and stability. The strategic relations that bind Egypt and the US are based on a long history of cooperation, he added, before highlighting the significance of these relations as one of the cornerstones of stability in the Middle East. (see p.8)

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