In a Saturday interview with the Associated Press (AP) news agency, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi cited improving relations with the US amongst other topics, of which terrorism had the spotlight.
Al-Sisi is currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, during which he delivered a speech on Friday at the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit. He expressed concerns over the region’s security status, saying it is at “its most vulnerable state”, AP reported.
“Let it suffice to look at the map and find countries that are suffering from failure. There is an increase in the extremist groups. There is the problem of the refugees that are flowing into Europe. With all that in mind, we can sense how difficult and how complicated” the challenge is, he said.
On Saturday, Al-Sisi met with a number of US politicians and public figures, including former president Bill Clinton, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and a group of US House of Representatives members. In the meetings, Al-Sisi discussed the Arab region’s work in counter terrorism.
The highest profile of his meetings whilst in the US, however, was with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. During his meeting with the German leader, Al-Sisi stressed “the importance of confronting terrorism from a comprehensive perspective that is not limited to security and military measures but that also includes economic and social aspects”, according to a presidency statement.
The president touched upon the same issue during the AP interview, saying: “I don’t want to say we are late in doing what we should have done, but (defeating the threat will require) a lot of effort, and not only a lot of effort but as a matter of fact it entails a good amount of understanding and cooperation from every country… to restore the countries that are now sliding into this vicious cycle of failure.”
Al-Sisi also reflected on the “improving” ties with the US, saying that the last two years were “a real test” of the strength of relations between the two countries.
He praised the role of the Egyptian army in securing the country’s stability, and its support in the strengthening of Egypt’s capabilities as the country faces “a ferocious war against terrorism and extremism”. He added that “increasing the military capability of the Egyptian military (sic) means that it can strike a strategic balance for the region”, according to AP.
Egypt announced last Wednesday that it will purchase two French Mistral helicopter carriers that France had initially intended to sell to Russia. The purchase of the two helicopters came after Egypt agreed terms with France following a month of official talks.
Al-Sisi commented on the latest presidential pardon that he issued, which saw the release of Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Shadi Ibrahim, in addition to a number of political activists from prisons.
“Rest assured that we are always keen on sorting out issues and problems, especially those that relate to journalists and to the media personnel,” he said. Al-Sisi also revealed his openness to the idea of granting pardons to other journalists, as long as it falls within his legal powers.