Egyptian President Al-Sisi to Visit White House, Meet Trump in April

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen), following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Cairo on March 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C. – Egypt’s state-owned paper Al-Ahram has announced that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will meet with President Donald Trump on April 3. The White House has confirmed that Sisi accepted the invitation Trump extended to him just days after his inauguration.

The meeting will be al-Sisi’s first visit to Washington since being elected president in 2014.

Sisi and Trump first met in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, The Guardian reported. Trump described their meeting as having “good chemistry.” Sisi, a general-turned-politician, said Trump would “without a doubt” make a strong leader.

Cairo and Washington could have a warmer relationship under Trump after years of tension between Sisi and Barack Obama and Cairo’s perception that Obama supported the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, The Guardian reported.

As defense minister, Sisi led the military’s 2013 overthrow of the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi following massive protests against the Islamist leader.

Morsi’s removal preceded a crackdown on Islamists and secular pro-democracy activists – a crackdown that was criticized by the Obama administration and led to the suspension of some foreign aid to Sisi’s government.

Unlike Trump, Obama never invited Sisi to the White House.

Egypt and the U.S. have been close allies for most of the almost four decades since Cairo signed a peace treaty with Israel. At one point, The Guardian noted, Egypt became the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel.

Sisi has made building relationships inside his country and abroad a hallmark of his tenure as president.

In February, he met with American-Jewish leaders in Cairo. Alaa Youssef, Sisi’s spokesperson, said he met with Jewish leaders to strengthen cooperation. The delegation was from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella organization that represents over 50 major U.S. Jewish groups.

At the meeting, Sisi discussed the war on terror, Egypt’s financial challenges, the campaign against corruption and perks for investors. Youssef said that Sisi’s American counterparts expressed appreciation of the president’s efforts on severals fronts, including the war on terror.

Sisi was criticized on Arab social media for meeting with American Jewish leaders.

“Sisi is the biggest Zionist in the Middle East,” Saleh Almansoori tweeted.

On Tuesday, Sisi took part in Egyptian Women’s Day on the occasion of Mother’s Day, the Egypt Daily News reported. “The celebration was held in one of Cairo’s hotels in the presence of high-ranking state officials and the head of the Women’s National Council.”

“Sisi’s speech included praise of Egyptian women and their struggles throughout the different historical stages in Egypt, in addition to their sacrifices in Egypt’s war against terrorism,” the Daily News reported.

“Recently, Egyptian women were on the forefront of promoting revolutions that aimed at achieving freedom and dignity and played an important role in restoring Egypt from the rule radical groups [sic] that worked hard to kidnap Egypt,” Sisi said.

“Moreover, Sisi praised Egyptian women for bearing the hardships that stemmed from the recent economic reforms and proved their efficiency in different positions, such as being parliament members, great scholars, and judges,” the Daily News reported.

Al-Sisi ended his speech by noting the instructions he issued to the government to provide state-sponsored care to children to allow Egyptian women to work outside the home, the Daily News reported.