US President Donald Trump told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Saudi capital on Sunday that he would soon visit Egypt, as the two leaders spoke at a Riyadh-sponsored summit.
“We will absolutely be putting that on the list very soon,” Trump said at the beginning of bilateral talks with Sisi.
It took place hours before the US president is scheduled to address an Arab Islamic American summit where Trump will speak about Islam.
Trump praised US relations with Egypt, describing the talks with Sisi as “very, very important”.
“We’ve really been through a lot together, positively,” he said.
Trump said that “safety seems to be very strong” in Egypt, which has seen deadly bombings and attacks on Christian Copts and security forces in past months.
Responding through an interpreter, Sisi said: “Egypt is secure and stable and is going very well with the cooperation of the United States.
“You are a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible,” Sisi told Trump.
“I agree!”, the billionaire president beemed to laughter in the room.
Trump returned the compliment by remarking on Sisi’s shoes.
Trump is also calling Sisi his “friend” and praising him for the release of US aid worker Aya Hijazi, who had been held captive for three years.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians without US passports, however, still languish in jail in what human rights groups have described as “horrific” conditions.
This was not the first time Trump mentioned the possibility of visiting Egypt in the near future.
On Monday, the US President told his Egyptian counterpart during a phone call that he plans on visiting Cairo soon, Sisi’s spokesman said in a statement at the time.
“Trump confirmed his intention to visit Cairo at the earliest chance, pointing out the importance of continued coordination between the two countries on issues of common interest,” the statement read.
Sisi has been keen to have US and European leaders visit the country, particularly after Egypt’s short-lived isolation due to the 2013 military coup and reports of dire human rights abuses.
Since then, Sisi has been slowly moving back into the fold, but a visit from Trump would be a huge boost for the Egyptian president.
Egypt is also keen to have Western companies invest in the country, to prop up it dire economy. Sisi promised Egyptians economic growth and stability as president, but has so far been unable to achieve either.
Sisi and Trump have enjoyed cordial relations since Trump took office in the White House following his shock election victory over Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.
Last month, Trump set aside Sisi’s poor human rights record to welcome him to the White House, showering the Egyptian strongman with praise.
The meeting symbolised Sisi coming in from the cold, after years of being kept at arm’s length by Washington.
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