President Donald Trump is preparing to host Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House on Tuesday amid calls by rights groups for a less friendly welcome due to reports of human rights violations in the African country.
Meanwhile, Egyptian officials see the upcoming meeting, at the invitation of the U.S. administration, as a sign that relations between the two countries are entering a new era.
“President Sisi has been able to restore Egyptian-American relations to their former political and economic prosperity,” said Ashraf Osman, an influential member of Egypt’s parliament.
According to the White House, the meeting will focus on the cooperation between the U.S. and Egypt regarding counterterrorism, economy and military.
CNN informs that the upcoming encounter, however, has drawn criticism from human rights groups accusing the Egyptian government of torturing political prisoners, silencing dissidents and using death sentences to settle scores, allegations Cairo has denied.
These groups have repeatedly urged members of Congress to seriously consider Egypt’s poor human rights record when they meet the country’s president on Tuesday. The effort led by Amnesty International and Egyptians Abroad For Democracy Worldwide aims at convince congressmen to “oppose the death penalty in Egypt and to improve human rights.”
The groups are also lobbying to make $1.3 billion of military aid this year conditional on improving human rights in Egypt.
The country is the second largest recipient of US foreign military aid, with $195 million granted to Egypt last year alone. At the time, the aid was temporarily withheld, but the State Department later cited “steps” taken by Cairo to address concerns raised by the U.S. about its human rights practices and the military aid was released.
So far, efforts by human rights groups to make this aid conditional on Egypt meeting certain demands have been unsuccessful and President Trump is likely to continue the practice of ignoring lobbying attempts by these groups.
During his upcoming meeting with Sisi, the U.S. president will most certainly avoid bringing up controversial constitutional amendments and the two will rather discuss the fight against ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, and a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.