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20 April 2017, 10:13 | Terri Saunders
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis takes questions during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington DC
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis meets Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and top brass in Cairo on Thursday, pledging support for the American ally on his first regional tour.
Earlier this month President Donald Trump moved to reset US relations with Egypt, hosting Sisi for talks at the White House and giving him firm backing, including in the fight against Islamist militants.
The bilateral relations between Egypt and US worsened during Trump's predecessor Barrack Obama's administration after the Egyptian military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
Obama temporarily suspended military aid to Egypt following a bloody crackdown on Morsi's supporters.
According to the program of the visit, the meeting, appreciated here as a sign of the importance Egypt attaches to relations with the United States, addressed bilateral issues, including Washington's military assistance to Cairo, as well as aspects of Fight against terrorism.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2017.
Trump, however, pledged to maintain support for the key USA ally which receives an annual $1.3 billion in military aid.
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Sisi told Mattis he wanted to "strengthen the ongoing military cooperation between the two countries", the statement added.
Also last week a delegation from the US Congress visited Cairo, where he met with Sobhi and expressed Washington's full support for Egypt's war against "terrorism and extremism". He is also scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
Mattis arrived in Cairo for a one day visit coming from Saudi Arabia, on a tour of the region that also includes Israel, Qatar and Djibiouti.
The Egyptian president focused on the pressing need to dry up funding for terrorism and convey a strict message to countries that support terror groups or supply them with fighters and/or arms.
The insurgency in the Sinai took off after Morsi was ousted with ISIL increasingly expanding its attacks to other parts of Egypt.
Trump has said that the USA "strongly condemns the terrorist attack" in Egypt on 9 April, in which a church in Alexandria and one in Tanta were hit by suicide bombers.
On Thursday, the Egyptian military said its air force had killed 19 Islamic extremists including a top ISIL cleric in Sinai.
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