Egypt’s Sisi calls talk of second term premature, affirms ties with Riyadh and Washington

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said in an interview with national newspapers editors that talk of whether he would run for another term as president is premature and affirmed Egypt’s strong ties with its long-time allies Saudi Arabia and the US.

The president made his remarks during an interview with the editors-in-chief of the country’s state-owned papers.

“Let’s leave the matter to its time,” El-Sisi said in the second part of the interview, published in Al-Ahram Daily on Thursday.

On Egypt’s regional and international ties, El-Sisi said that cooperation with Saudi Arabia is currently “at its highest,” point.

The president is set to take part in an upcoming summit in Riyadh between US President Donald Trump and heads of state from across Muslim-majority nations.

El-Sisi reiterated his praise for Trump, with whom he has demonstrated some rapport.

“I have great trust in President Trump, his abilities and promise…he’s a very unique and great person.”

Trump and El-Sisi have exchanged phone calls in the past months, often vowing support and trading praise. El-Sisi was the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump on his election victory.

In response to a question about efforts to revive long-stalled negotiations between Palestine and Israel, El-Sisi said Trump is the “decisive player” in the matter.

“I believe he does not take time in resolving matters…he’s a capable person who doesn’t work like others,” El-Sisi said.

Among the key areas of common interest between Cairo and Washington is Egypt’s battle against an Islamist insurgency centred in the North Sinai, which has killed hundreds of police and military personnel in roadside bombings and insurgent attacks in recent years. Egyptian authorities frequently announce successful raids to kill and capture Islamists in North Sinai and elsewhere in the country.

The president said the country’s counter-terrorism situation “has significantly improved.”

El-Sisi said the government is drawing up a law to create a supreme council to combat terrorism and extremism. The president announced this initiative in April following two deadly bombings on churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

The president said that the cabinet is currently holding meetings to discuss its formation, responsibilities, strategy and the legislation to regulate it.

The presidency has said that the council would comprise government officials supported by committees of public figures and experts in various fields.

In the interview, El-Sisi also reaffirmed Egypt’s strong ties with Sudan and Ethiopia.

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