US congressional delegation visits Egypt
Courtesy: AP
 

A US congressional delegation began its visit to Egypt on Saturday to discuss counterterrorism tactics and defense, reported the state-owned Al-Ahram.

The delegation held a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Saturday, which also included US Ambassador to Egypt Robert Beecroft. It continued to meet with other state officials on Sunday, among them Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy.

Congressman Rob Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, led the delegation, which resumes strategic talks between Egypt and the US that began in August, reported presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef to Al-Ahram.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited Egypt to carry out strategic dialogue with the foreign minister, which also focused on counterterrorism and security strategies.

Youssef stated that members of the congressional delegation highlighted Egypt’s role in maintaining safety and security in the Middle East, especially considering the challenges and crises facing the region.

Sisi took the occasion to emphasize the importance of the military relationship between the US and Egypt, especially considering recent strategic developments between the two countries, the most important of which was the resumption of US military aid to Egypt.

US military aid to Egypt was temporarily suspended following the 2013 ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, given that US law prohibits the provision of aid to unelected governments. The aid, however, was resumed in 2015 after a new waiver was added to the US budget in 2014, creating a legal loophole in cases where providing aid is in US security interests.

Since then, the US has provided Egypt with several shipments of F-16s and has promised other military resources, including Apache helicopters, fast missile crafts and other weaponry.

Armed Forces spokesperson Mohamed Samir released a statement through his official Facebook page stating that the defense minister’s meeting with the congressional delegation dealt with recent regional developments and international efforts in the war on terrorism.

He stated that Sobhy expressed pride in the strong multilateral relationship between the US and Egypt and emphasized the importance of international unity in the fight against terror.

Samir also reported that the delegation expressed their appreciation of Egypt’s efforts to achieve stability.

The meeting with congress comes after many international bodies have expressed doubt in Egypt’s security capacities, particularly in its airport security, following the deadly crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai on October 31, which killed all 224 people on board.

Foreign media has speculated that a breach in security at Sharm al-Sheikh airport allowed a bomb to be planted on board the aircraft, leading to the crash. Russia released a statement on November 17 saying that the Sinai crash was caused by an act of terrorism and has halted all of its flights in and out of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egyptian authorities have stated that investigations into the crash are still ongoing and the cause of the crash remains unknown.

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