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Egypt's Sisi, Biden discuss Gaza cease-fire, reconstruction

Egypt's Sisi, Biden discuss Gaza cease-fire, reconstruction

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the opening ceremony of floating bridges and tunnel projects executed under the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

CAIRO: US President Joe Biden called Egypt's President Abdelfattah al-Sisi on Monday (May 24) and they discussed strengthening the Gaza ceasefire, urgent humanitarian aid to the strip and international efforts to rebuild it, the Egyptian presidency said.

The two leaders also discussed ways to revive the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians after the latest wave of violence between the two sides, the presidency said in a statement.

Egypt brokered the ceasefire, now in its fourth day after 11 days of hostilities. Cairo will be a stop during the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region later on Monday.

"Biden made clear his country's determination to work to restore calm and restore conditions as they were in the Palestinian territories, as well as coordinating efforts with all international partners to support the Palestinian Authority as well as reconstruction," the statement said.

It was Biden's second call to Sisi within days to discuss the conflict. But this time, the discussion was expanded to bilateral relations and some regional issues, including Libya and Iraq.

Biden and Sisi exchanged views on the giant Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile and Egypt sees as an existential threat, the presidency said. Sudan is concerned about the dam's safety and about regulating water flows through its own dams and water stations.

The statement said "it was agreed to strengthen diplomatic efforts during the coming period in order to reach an agreement that preserves water and developmental rights for all parties."

Sisi and Biden also discussed human rights in Egypt and their "commitment to engage in a transparent dialogue ... in this regard", the presidency said.

Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, has overseen an extensive crackdown on political dissent that has steadily tightened in recent years. He has said there are no political prisoners in Egypt and that stability and security are paramount.

Source: Reuters/ec

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