US President Donald Trump meets his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Washington on Monday for talks on the thorny issue of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the fight against ISIS.
For Sisi, the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump following his surprise election victory, the Oval Office meeting will have special meaning — he was never invited to the White House by former president Barack Obama.
Trump has sent mixed signals over how he will address the peace process, deadlocked since April 2014.
He broke with decades of US policy during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February when he declared that he was not bound to a two-state solution, meaning an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Trump said he’d be open to a single state if it meant peace. But he also called on Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
The Obama administration froze military aid to Egypt after the 2013 ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. But Egypt’s key role as the most populous and best armed Arab nation meant that the aid was fully reinstated in 2015.
The United States gives $1.5 billion annually in aid to Egypt, including $1.3 billion in military aid.
The White House, which recently unveiled a budget that proposes drastic cuts in international aid, has pledged to maintain a “strong and sufficient” level of support for Egypt.
As well as meeting Trump, Sisi will see the top officials at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund,
where he will pitch for help with his country’s’ ailing economy.
Sisi is also scheduled to meet with leaders of the American chamber of commerce and heads of major United States companies to discuss investment opportunities in Egypt.