Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis answers the question of a journalist during a meeting with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj at the Pentagon, Thursday, November 30, 2017. (Cliff Owen / Associated Press)
By ] Menna Zaki | AP By Menna Zaki | AP December 2 at 6:20 a.m.
CAIRO – On a trip through the Middle East, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Cairo on Saturday to meet with Egyptian officials and discuss cooperation before heading to Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait, officials said. From the airport.
Mattis' visit comes just a week after the worst Islamic militant attack in modern Egyptian history took place in the troubled northern Sinai where more than two dozen extremists descended on a mosque and mowed more than 300 faithful
The attackers first opened fire and threw hand grenades into the mosque during Friday prayers, and then shot at anyone who tried to escape. Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack, the survivors said the militants who attacked the mosque carried the black flag of the IS, pointing to the Egyptian subsidiary based in Sinai of the Sunni extremist group. On Wednesday, state newspaper Al-Ahram said the death toll from the attack had risen to 311.
President Donald Trump called Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi shortly after the attack and said in a tweet that "The world can not tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology."
According to a statement from the Department of Defense, Mattis' visit to Egypt is part of a five-day trip to the region "to reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to an badociation in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia. "Mattis is scheduled to meet with el-Sissi and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi.
From Cairo, Mattis will head to Jordan to attend a meeting to counter violent extremism in West Africa, organized by Jordan's King Abdullah II. On Monday, Mattis will visit Pakistan where he plans to meet with Prime Minister Abbadi before concluding his trip with a visit to Kuwait the next day.
Egypt is one of the main recipients of military badistance in the United States, receiving almost $ 1.3 billion annually plus $ 250 million in economic aid. That aid is linked to the Egyptian peace treaty of 1979 with Israel, and underpins a security relationship between the US. UU And Egypt, which is now mainly aimed at fighting terrorism.
After the Sinai attack, el-Sissi ordered his security forces to use "all the brute force" and gave them three months to restore stability in the volatile northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
North Sinai has been the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency for years, the insurgency intensified after the overthrow in 2013 of el-Sissi's predecessor, former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.The Egyptian security forces have been conducting a tough campaign and costly against militants in the area, where the local affiliate of IS leads the insurgency.
But the el-Sissi government has also expanded military relations with Russia and has signed agreements to buy Russian fighter jets, helicopters and other Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Cairo on Wednesday and noted that military cooperation between the two countries has increased recently while Egypt It has new orders for Russian weapons.
In a move that could further annoy the Americans, Russia approved a draft agreement with Egypt for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, according to a document published on Thursday, an agreement that would allow Moscow to increase even more his military presence in the Middle East.
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