WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump put human rights controversies aside to warmly welcome Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the White House on Monday, the first such visit from an Egyptian president in almost a decade.
Greeting Sisi in the Oval Office, Trump heaped praise on the former general’s leadership and embarked on a charm offensive designed to fix ties strained by revolution and security crackdowns.
“You have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me,” Trump told Sisi, sweeping aside his predecessor’s concerns about democratic abuses in Egpyt.
“I just want to let everybody know that we are very much behind President al-Sisi, he has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation,” Trump added.
The meeting symbolises an end to years in which the Egyptian leader had been kept at arm’s length by Washington amid rights concerns.
The last time an Egyptian president was at the White House was in 2010, when Hosni Mubarak attended Middle East peace talks alongside Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders. Within months Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising, which received tacit support from president Barack Obama.
The Obama administration froze military aid to Egypt after then-defence minister Sisi led the 2013 ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, and a bloody crackdown on his supporters.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2017