US defense secretary arrives in Cairo for Sissi meeting

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomes US Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo (AFP)
Updated 20 April 2017
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US defense secretary arrives in Cairo for Sissi meeting

CAIRO: US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Cairo Thursday on the latest leg of a regional tour, as ties with Egypt continue to warm under President Donald Trump.
After touching down at Cairo airport, Mattis set off to meet President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was hailed by Trump during a White House visit earlier this month.
Sissi’s visit marked a shift in relations after Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had given the Egyptian leader the cold shoulder for staging the military overthrow of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.
Obama temporarily suspended military aid to Egypt following a bloody crackdown on Mursi’s supporters.
Trump, however, has set aside criticism of Sissi’s human rights record while pledging to maintain support for the key US ally which receives an annual $1.3 billion in military aid.
After meeting Sissi, Mattis is scheduled to hold talks with Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi. He leaves Thursday afternoon to Israel.
No announcement is expected during the Egyptian leg of the tour, which started with a visit to Saudi Arabia.
In Egypt, talks are likely to touch on the military’s counterinsurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, where an Daesh group affiliate has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.
The Pentagon is also concerned with preventing jihadists from crossing Libya’s porous border with Egypt and the reported presence of Russian troops in Egypt’s western desert, which Cairo has denied.


Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

Updated 18 July 2019
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Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

  • Some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security, Abdollahian says

BEIRUT: “Lebanon must be kept out of all regional crises,” said Iran’s Shoura Council assistant speaker for international affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during a surprise visit to Beirut on Wednesday.

“We say at the top of our voice that Iran and its allies will not allow the Zionist entity and the US to damage the region’s security.”

Following his meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Abdollahian said that Tehran “is convinced that the security of Lebanon is the security of the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Abdollahian added that “some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security.”

He described his talks with Berri as “good and constructive.”

“We will not allow Israel, US to interfere with regional security.”

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Shoura Council official

Abdollahian said: “We have come today to reaffirm that Iran fully supports the people, army, resistance and government of Lebanon, and we look forward to developing relations between our two countries until they reach the highest levels.”

He said he believes that the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are for “domestic consumption,” accusing him of “making some moves in the region that are not in his favor.”

Netanyahu responded to a message from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday by threatening Hezbollah during Israel’s Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said: “Let me be clear that if Hezbollah dares to commit an act of stupidity and attack Israel, we will deal a crushing military blow on Lebanon. But unlike Nasrallah, I do not intend to detail our plans. It would be enough to recall that, for years, Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, and we demolished them within a few days.”