Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with President Donald Trump at the White House Monday for the Egyptian leader’s first official U.S. visit since his rise to power in 2013.
In their brief public remarks, Trump said El-Sisi has been “somebody that’s been very close to me from the first time I met him” last September.
“We agree on so many things,” Trump said. “I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President El-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt, and the United States has, believe me, backing and we have strong backing.”
Speaking through a translator, El-Sisi said the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve had a deep appreciation and admiration of your unique personality, especially as you’re standing very strong in the counter-terrorism field,” he told Trump.
The two leaders were expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including fighting Islamic terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The White House visit was the first of its kind since El-Sisi rose to power in 2013, overthrowing former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi—a leader of Hamas’s parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Former President Barack Obama had declined to invite El-Sisi to the White House during his eight years in office. The Obama administration was critical of El-Sisi’s human rights record and had withheld the transfer of weapons to his military.