Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis agreed to boost military cooperation between the two countries, during a meeting Thursday.
Sisi hosted Mattis at the presidential palace near Cairo as the U.S. official begins a Middle East tour and said he hoped Egypt could have strong relations with the new U.S. administration.
Sisi stressed "the strength of Egyptian-American relations and its resilience to many of the difficult challenges during the past years," according to a statement released by Egyptian presidency.
The Egyptian president spoke with Mattis at the Pentagon during his visit to Washington D.C. in early April, which was aimed at increasing U.S. military support to Egypt, according to Egyptian media.
Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after Israel, benefiting from a package worth $1.3 billion while an additional $150 million is intended for developing the Egyptian economy.
Mattis reaffirmed American support for Egyptian efforts in fighting terrorism and its pivotal role in the Middle East region, the statement added.
The meeting, broadcast by state television, included a review of the military and security cooperation between the two countries and discussed ways to strengthen and develop it during the coming period, in the light of the regional situation.
The Egyptian president also stressed "the need to intensify international efforts to stem the sources of terrorism and to deliver a decisive message to countries that support terrorism and finance terrorist organizations."
The meeting was also attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense and Military Production Sedqi Sobhi, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Affairs Dina Powell and the U.S. Ambassador to Cairo Stephen Beecroft.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration stopped aid to Egypt after Sisi took power in a military coup in 2013 but quickly restored the funding in accordance with the Camp David agreement while continuing to withhold economic aid there in protest against ongoing human rights violations by Sisi regime.
On Tuesday, Mattis began a tour of the Middle East and Africa, starting with Saudi Arabia before he arrived in Egypt. He is also scheduled to visit Israel, Qatar and Djibouti, the Pentagon said in a statement. -