(WASHINGTON) — The president who loves generals met Monday with the general-turned-president.
Donald Trump reunited with his Egyptian counterpart, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, for talks ranging from collaboration against ISIS to bolstering Egypt’s flailing economy.
It’s the second meeting for the pair. Reflecting on their first encounter in New York shortly before the general election, Trump said el-Sissi is someone “very close to me.”
“Together, we will fight terrorism and other things and we’re going to be friends for a very, very long time,” the American leader said, citing a “great bond with the people of Egypt.”
For Egypt, the objective is clear: Help us help you.
In Trump, el-Sissi sees new opportunity after years of lukewarm relations with former President Barack Obama.
Obama never invited the Egyptian leader to the White House, which el-Sissi mentioned in his brief remarks. And Egypt’s government was repeatedly admonished over its human rights record. Obama even briefly suspending some U.S. military aid.
In recent months, U.S. and Egyptian officials have sought to stress commonalities.
Like Trump, el-Sissi believes he can eradicate radical Islamic extremism.
He hailed Trump on Monday for his “unique personality” and vowed to work with the U.S. “to counter this evil ideology that is claiming innocent lives, that is bringing devastation to communities and nations and that is terrorizing the innocent people.”
Since the military overthrew Egypt’s first post-revolution president, the popularly elected Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, el-Sissi has cracked down on political Islamists. El-Sissi also has taken a heavy hand on Egyptians who’ve deemed his presidency illegitimate, often relegating human rights concerns to national security.
But el-Sissi’s government believes its success in fighting radicalism depends critically on U.S. aid.
Egypt is among the top recipients of U.S. military and economic…