Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi affirmed to US President Barack Obama Egypt’s commitment to democracy, human rights and to the roadmap unveiled after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, in a phone call on Thursday.
According to Al-Ahram Arabic, citing a statement by El-Sisi’s spokesman, the two men also discussed the fight against Islamist militants in the Middle East, and the US president praised the pivotal role played by Egypt in this arena.
During the phone call, El-Sisi highlighted Egyptians’ aspirations to establish a modern democratic state that respects rights and freeoms.
Obama also praised Egypt’s role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also its role in restoring political stability and security in Libya and Iraq, according to spokesman Alaa Youssef.
A White House statement released on Thursday said that during the phone call Obama had assured El-Sisi of the United States’ commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt and had emphasised the importance of bilateral cooperation to promote “shared interests in counterterrorism and regional security”.
Obama also extended his condolences to the Egyptian president and the people for “the spate of terrorist attacks they have suffered,” the statement read.
The US president also “expressed concerns about mass trials, the status of NGOs, and the continued imprisonment of journalists and peaceful activists” in Egypt, according to the White House statement.
Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been sentenced to death in mass trials in recent months. In one such case in April, a judge recommended 638 people be sentenced to death for charges related to an attack on police station in Minya 2013.
Egypt has also drawn criticism for jailing three Al Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, on charges related to supporting the Brotherhood.
Following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the US halted some parts of the annual $1.5 billion in military and economic aid it provides to Egypt.
In October 2013, Washington halted deliveries of large-scale military systems as well as $260 million in cash aid to the Egyptian military, citing concerns over the country’s democratic transition and mounting violence following the ouster of Islamist president.
Last week Congress passed a spending bill that includes a longer list of provisions that must be fulfilled in order for US aid to be released to Egypt.
The conditions include free and fair elections and the right to free assembly. However, Congress also passed a waiver that allows the secretary of state to sidestep the conditions if necessary for national security.
Source : Ahram online