WASHINGTON, April 5, 2017 —
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis today highlighted Egypt’s importance in promoting stability in the Middle East during a Pentagon meeting with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sissi, according to Defense Department spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.
Mattis also recognized Egypt's efforts in the ongoing fight to counter terrorism, Davis said.
During their meeting, the spokesman said, the two leaders discussed a range of Middle East security issues and expressed their desire to cooperate on counterterrorism and regional challenges.
Davis said the leaders recognized defense cooperation as the backbone of the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship and expressed a mutual desire to deepen their countries' defense partnership moving forward.
Mattis said he looks forward to visiting Cairo in the near future, Davis said.
Earlier in the day, Mattis praised Egypt’s role in promoting stability in the Middle East.
“I think you know me well enough, Mr. President, to know that I am among those who believe that no country is more critical to the long-term stability of the Middle East than Egypt,” Mattis said when he welcomed the Egyptian president to the Pentagon. “I recognize that through a time of turmoil and transition, Egypt has remained a center of gravity in the region, and through all these times, for whatever may have happened between us, we remain friends -- first and last, friends.”
El-Sissi thanked Mattis for his welcome, and said he looks forward “to having fruitful and constructive discussions with the secretary of defense, and ways to enhance all aspects of our military-to-military relationship, and ways also to boost the existing partnership between us in this respect at all levels that will contribute to the restoration of security and stability to the Middle East area, and ensure that interests of the two friendly nations.”