Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is set to meet US President Donald Trump on Tuesday amid continued controversy at home over his bid to extend his rule and concerns over human rights violations.
The meeting will be Sisi’s second visit to the White House since he took office in 2014.
Relations between Cairo and Washington were tense under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. But they have warmed considerably under Trump, who has been willing to set aside human rights concerns to rebuild close defence and diplomatic ties.
On Tuesday, the two heads of state will discuss military, economic, and counterterrorism cooperation, according to a White House statement.
“The two leaders will also discuss developments and shared priorities in the region, including enhancing regional economic integration and addressing ongoing conflicts, and Egypt’s longstanding role as a lynchpin of regional stability,” a White House statement said.
Rights groups accuse Egypt of instituting a widespread crackdown on dissent, including the torture of political prisoners – allegations the Egyptian government has denied.
Rights concerns are not expected to top Tuesday’s agenda, and groups accuse the US of overlooking abuses by Egypt.
In 2018, the Trump administration released $195m in military aid to Egypt after withholding the assistance the previous year over human rights concerns. The US said the decision followed steps Egypt took in response to specific US concerns, and it cited stronger US-Egypt ties in security and counterterrorism while also acknowledging remaining areas of concern about human rights and governance.
The Trump administration has asked Congress for $1.382bn in assistance for Egypt for the next fiscal year.
Earlier this year, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, delivered a speechat the American University in Cairo where he outlined Trump’s Middle East vision.
During his visit, Pompeo praised Sisi as a partner in the fight against “terrorism” while dodging questions over rising human rights concerns under Sisi.
Critics have urged the White House to address human rights concerns during Sisi’s visit to the US, as well as the Egyptian president’s attempt to hold onto power.