Trump calls Egypt’s El-Sisi, says keen to overcome obstacles

US President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. (AP)
Updated 25 August 2017

Trump calls Egypt’s El-Sisi, says keen to overcome obstacles

CAIRO: US President Donald Trump called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday and said he was keen to overcome any obstacles in the way of cooperation, just days after the US said it would withhold some financial aid to Egypt.
“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a phone call tonight from US President Donald Trump who affirmed the strength of the friendship between Egypt and the United States and expressed his keenness on continuing to develop the relationship and overcome any obstacles that might affect it,” Sissi’s office said in a statement late on Thursday.
On Tuesday, two US sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Washington had decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million because it had failed to make progress on respecting human rights and democracy.
Egypt, an important regional partner for the United States because of its control of the Suez Canal and its border with Israel, receives $1.3 billion in aid annually and was critical of the US decision.
Its foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the decision to withhold aid reflected “poor judgment” and that it could have “negative implications” on achieving common goals and interests between the two countries.
The decision reflects a US desire to continue security cooperation as well as its frustration with Cairo’s stance on civil liberties. In particular, a new law regulating non-governmental organizations is widely seen as part a growing crackdown on dissent, said the US sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Egyptian rights activists have said they face the worst crackdown in their history under Sissi, accusing him of erasing freedoms won in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Egyptian lawmakers have said the NGO law was needed for national security. The Egyptian government has long accused human rights groups of taking foreign funds to sow chaos, and several are facing investigation regarding their funding.
Sissi and his Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in Cairo on Wednesday but neither the presidency nor the ministry mentioned the aid issue in statements released after the meetings.


Dubai airport hands out roses to Beirut passengers in a show of support

Updated 2 min 7 sec ago

Dubai airport hands out roses to Beirut passengers in a show of support

  • Passengers arriving from Beirut in Dubai were handed white roses
  • “Rebuilding Lebanon is like rebuilding UAE,” a message attached to the roses read

DUBAI: Passengers arriving from Beirut in Dubai were handed white roses on Sunday in a heartfelt gesture of support following last week’s deadly blast. 
The 163 passengers boarding an Emirates airline flight who arrived at Dubai International Airport were gifted the roses from Dubai Customs workers. The flowers came with a message that quoted the founder of the UAE, the late President Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan.
The message reads: “Rebuilding Lebanon is like rebuilding UAE.”
Dubai Airport CEO Paul Griffiths said the act reflects the “spirit of kindness at the heart of the aviation community.”  
“I’m sure it has provided some measure of comfort for the Lebanese passengers during these very difficult times,” he said.
Like many other countries, the UAE has sent large shipments of aid to Lebanon since the explosion. 
The massive blasts at the Beirut port killed 158 people and injured 6,000.