‘Great president’: Trump on Egypt’s al-Sisi, who has cracked down on liberal and Islamist opponents – National

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U.S. President Donald Trump praised his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as a “nice president” on Tuesday, at the same time as a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers raised considerations about Sisi’s report on human rights, efforts to maintain him in workplace for a few years and deliberate Russian arms purchases.

Egypt’s parliament has proposed constitutional reforms aimed toward permitting Sisi to stay in energy till 2034, which senior U.S. lawmakers and advocacy teams have criticized, together with Egypt’s repression of human rights.

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Requested if he backed the efforts to permit Sisi to probably keep in energy for 15 extra years, Trump advised reporters: “I feel he’s doing an amazing job. I don’t know concerning the effort, I can simply let you know he’s doing an amazing job … nice president.”

Sisi is a former basic who got here to energy after the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following mass protests in opposition to his rule. Sisi was elected the next yr.

He has since overseen a sweeping crackdown on each Islamist and liberal opposition. Activists think about it the worst repression in Egypt’s fashionable historical past.

READ MORE: Egypt mosque attackers had ISIS flag, demise toll rises to 305 together with 27 youngsters

Trump, who referred to Sisi as “my good friend,” made no point out of human rights as the 2 spoke to reporters.

In a later assertion stressing Trump’s dedication to Egypt, the White Home talked about the difficulty in its fifth bullet level, saying: “America encourages the Egyptian authorities to protect house for civil society and to guard human rights.”

Praising relationship with Egypt

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, is of strategic significance to the USA due to its peace treaty with Israel and management of the Suez Canal, a significant waterway for international commerce in addition to the U.S. army. The U.S. Congress has put aside $1.four billion in assist to Egypt lately.

Whereas there continues to be help for such assist, U.S. lawmakers have voiced deep considerations about Egypt’s reported signing of a $2 billion cope with Russia to purchase greater than 20 Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets and weapons for the plane.

Trump didn’t reply a query about Egypt’s deliberate Russian arms buy, which might expose the nation to U.S. sanctions. He mentioned “plenty of progress has been made … when it comes to terrorism and different issues with Egypt.”

“We’ve by no means had a greater relationship, Egypt and the USA, than we do proper now,” Trump added as the 2 males spoke to reporters earlier than assembly within the White Home Oval Workplace.

“All of the credit score goes to you, Mister President,” Sisi responded via an interpreter. “Thanks very a lot to your help on all fronts.”

In a letter launched on Monday, main senators mentioned Egypt had “unjustly detained” greater than a dozen People, and referred to as for his or her launch. Additionally they raised “critical considerations concerning the erosion of political and human rights.”

The letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was signed by the influential Senate Overseas Relations Committee’s Republican chairman, Jim Risch, the panel’s senior Democrat, Bob Menendez, and 15 different senators.

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Throughout a congressional listening to, Patrick Leahy, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s high Democrat, requested Pompeo to elucidate Trump’s reward for authoritarian leaders.

“Possibly you’ll be able to clarify why a dictator like Egypt’s President al-Sisi is feted on the White Home, Russia’s President (Vladimir) Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Turkey’s President (Tayyip) Erdogan are praised as sturdy leaders and the Saudi Crown Prince is handled as an indispensable good friend and ally,” he mentioned.

Pompeo disputed that the Trump administration was treading calmly on human rights and he praised Egypt’s actions in help of Israel. “We now have not been remotely bashful,” he mentioned.

READ MORE: From 2016 — Egypt jails journalist union chief, two members

The Egyptian embassy was not instantly accessible for remark.

The White Home mentioned in an announcement that Trump and Sisi mentioned water points. “These complicated points should be addressed via negotiations and with respect for worldwide greatest practices,” the assertion mentioned.

The assertion didn’t consult with a particular water situation, however Egypt has criticized a dam Ethiopia is constructing on the River Nile, saying it might limit waters coming from Ethiopia’s highlands, via the deserts of Sudan, to Egyptian fields and reservoirs.

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