U.S. Maintaining Strategic Ties, Hagel Tells Egyptian Counterpart

In telephone call to Egypt's defense minister, Hagel announces gift of Apache helicopters.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
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Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, and then-Egyptian army's Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sedki Sobhi, left. September 20, 2013.Credit: AP
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called his Egyptian counterpart Sedki Sobhi on Tuesday to inform him of progress in American aid and to urge the Egyptian government to push forward with the nation's democratization process.

Sobhi took the position of defense secretary after his predecessor Abdel Fatah al-Sisi stepped down, in order to run for president. Sobhi served as Egypt's chief of staff under Sisi's tenure as defense secretary, and is considered close to him.

According to a press release issued by the Pentagon, Hagel informed Sobhi that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will soon be certifying to Congress "that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty."

Kerry, though, will be "unable to certify" that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition, Hagel said, according to the statement, and urged a "more inclusive transition that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians".

Hagel also briefed Sobhi of an American decision to proffer upon Egypt ten Apache helicopters, meant to aid its counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula. "We believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten U.S., Egyptian, and Israeli security," the press release read.