Reuters TOM BRENNER
During a telephone conversation with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed US concern about the human rights situation in Egypt and the possibility of Cairo buying Russian fighters.
The US State Department said, in a statement issued Tuesday, that Blinken held a call with Shukri today, in which “they stressed the importance of the strong strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, especially in the field of security and ongoing cooperation in combating terrorism, and they exchanged views on regional issues.”
The statement added that Blinken “expressed concerns about the human rights issue, which he stressed will be central to US-Egyptian relations, as well as about the possibility of Egypt buying Su-35 fighters from Russia.”
The American and Egyptian foreign ministers also discussed “support for peace negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations in Libya, the peace process in the Middle East, and cooperation in combating terrorism in Sinai.”
Shoukry had previously announced that the new US administration led by President Joe Biden had not yet clarified to Egypt its positions on a number of regional issues, stressing that the Egyptian-American relations have been close and strategic for four decades.
On February 17th, the US State Department announced that it had agreed to sell 168 tactical missiles to Egypt and described Cairo as “an important strategic partner in the Middle East.”
But the US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, confirmed that the arms sales to Egypt were a routine renewal of the Navy’s defensive missiles, and that would not prevent Washington from continuing to focus on the human rights issue.