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Taufiq Wan

Trump thanks Egypt's Sisi for 'betterment of the world'

Donald Trump [L] told President Sisi [R] of his "high regard for peace-loving Muslims" [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 20 September, 2016

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Controversial Republican presidential candidate makes Egypt's president his second world leader he has visited while on the campaign trail.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday in New York, where the pair exchanged niceties and discussed the "political, military and economic cooperation" between Egypt and the United States.

According to a statement released by Trump's campaign, the real estate tycoon "thanked President al-Sisi and the Egyptian people for what they have done in defence of their country and for the betterment of the world over the last few years". 

Given that Egypt has regressed further into authoritarian rule since Sisi led the 2013 coup to oust the country's first democratically elected president, Trump's words may seem to many like a strange assessment.

Or perhaps President Sisi's uncanny knack for keeping visitors away from his country - whose tourism industry has dwindled due to terror attacks and government targeting of foreigners - has sparked a strange admiration in Trump, the isolationist fence-builder.

Whatever the reason, reports that have emerged of the pair's first meeting paint a cordial meeting of minds.

"Mr Trump expressed to President el-Sisi his strong support for Egypt's war on terrorism, and how under a Trump administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead," the statement continued. 

Sat face-to-face with the leader of one of the Middle East's most populous Muslim-majority countries, Trump also seemed to soften his tone towards adherents of the Islamic faith. He reportedly "emphasised to President al-Sisi his high regard for peace-loving Muslims and understands that every day there are people of goodwill that sacrifice their lives and fortunes to combat the growing threat of radical Islamic terrorism".

The praise heaped on Sisi by the businessman-turned-politician, however, contrasted with the stern words his opponent Hillary Clinton had for the Egyptian leader.

According to an aide present during the meeting between the former first lady and Sisi, Clinton "emphasised the importance of respect for rule of law and human rights to Egypt's future progress".

Monday's meeting with Sisi was Trump's second sit-down with a world leader since running for president. Last month, the Republican candidate met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Meanwhile, it is not expected that Egypt's president will meet with his US counterpart Barack Obama during his visit to the UN. Obama has not met with Sisi on any of the Egyptian leader's three previous visits to the US, owing to diplomatic strains between Egypt and the US.

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