US promises delivery of Apaches ahead of Sisi’s visit

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi left for New York on Sunday as part of an Egyptian delegation to the 69th round of the United Nations’ General Assembly.

Ahead of the five-day visit, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Egyptian counterpart, Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy Saturday morning confirming that the US plans to deliver 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt, part of the military aid that was held up following the violent dispersal of Egyptian protesters in August of last year.

The US Department of Defense said in a statement that it would deliver the helicopters to Egypt “to support their counter-terrorism efforts.”

Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the two officials discussed regional security in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the US-led coalition to counter the self-declared Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

Hagel thanked Sobhy for Egypt’s role in brokering a ceasefire to end the Gaza crisis, the statement said.

“The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a strong bilateral relationship and agreed to continue to engage regularly,” Kirby said. 

Sisi is scheduled to deliver a speech at the climate summit on Tuesday and give Egypt’s speech in the General Assembly the following Thursday.

The visit and recent statements signal a return to normalcy in relations between Egypt and the US, which have been destabilized since the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi from power last year.

The US was initially concerned about the move to remove Morsi last year and started strongly condemning the Egyptian government following the violent dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood protests last year.

In October last year, the US froze some of its military aid to Egypt, including the 10 Apaches, citing concern over its commitment to human rights and democracy.

Last April, the US had announced lifting the hold on the delivery of the Apaches, which was confirmed in the recent phone call between the two ministers.

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