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Egypt's Sissi to visit US for first time, signals warmer ties

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
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After friendly phone calls and what Donald Trump called "chemistry" have set the tone for a new era of warmer U.S.-Egyptian ties, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi will make his first state visit to Washington during the first week of April at the invitation of US President Donald Trump, Egyptian state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported yesterday.

The trip will be Sissi's first US state visit since being elected president in 2014 as former US President Barack Obama had never extended an invitation.

Sissi, the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump on his election victory, returned the favor last month after the newly inaugurated president barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Egypt, not on the list, refrained from speaking out against the ban on behalf of Muslim countries that often look to it for leadership. That silence spoke volumes about the changing tone of its relationship with the United States.

For Trump, Sissi appeals as an uncompromising leader who came to power by overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood and is fighting Islamic State in northern Sinai and on his border with Libya.

For Sissi, Trump appeals as a U.S. leader who unlike Barack Obama is not interested in berating an old ally on human rights.

"The rhetoric alone of this Trump administration is much more forward leaning in its support towards Sissi than Obama," said one U.S. official, who declined to be named. "I expect it to be a much closer relationship."

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