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Kerry hopes to meet with Al-Sisi soon

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Two congressional delegations are visiting Egypt this week

Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi smiles during his meeting with Russian Defence Minster Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, on February 13, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV)

Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
(AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV)

United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that he would likely meet Egypt’s top general soon to discuss recent developments in Egypt.

“My hope is to be able to meet with General [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi somewhere in the next days or weeks to be able to talk about Egypt, as I have in the past,” said Kerry on Tuesday at a press conference at the US Embassy in Tunis.

Kerry said he would continue to communicate and “engage” with interim President Adly Mansour, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy and Al-Sisi, saying that constant communication with the Egyptian side was “the appropriate way to deal with lessons or differences between how countries may approach a particular issue”.

The secretary’s remarks came during the second half of a US Congressional delegation’s visit to Egypt, with a second delegation of US lawmakers arriving in Cairo.

The first delegation, headed by Republican representative Mike Rogers, met with Minister of Defence Al-Sisi on Tuesday. The two sides “discussed a number of topics of mutual interest and exchanged views on current developments and changes in the regional and international arenas”, according to a statement issued by the armed forces, adding that senior military leaders also attended the meeting.

Rogers is the head of the US House of Representative’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is tasked with providing oversight for a number of US government intelligence and military bodies.

The second delegation, led by Senator Tim Kaine, is also scheduled to meet senior level government officials. Kaine is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs.

Kaine’s visit to Egypt is part of a larger trip that include stops in Israel and the West Bank where he was scheduled to meet senior Israeli and Palestinian Authority members, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

In a press release Kaine said he also hoped to meet Mansour, Fahmy, and Al-Sisi. “Kaine will also meet with youth leaders, opposition party members, and civil society activists.” He added that he would also visit the Multinational Force and Observers Mission and meet with service members from his home state of Virginia.

In an interview with state-owned Al-Ahram published on Wednesday, Fahmy stressed that the status of relations between Egypt and the United States could not be linked to the former’s relations with any other countries, in reference to intensified bilateral efforts between Egypt and Russia.

Fahmy also voiced concern for the deteriorating status of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, but commended Kerry’s efforts showing “perseverance and determination”.

US-Egypt relations became strained following former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. However, the US Congress last month allocated $1.3bn of military aid to be made available to Egypt for the 2014 fiscal year, also making it possible for the US government to provide an additional $250m to the Egyptian government for economic support, including $35m earmarked for higher education programmes.


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