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Obama, Sisi hold first meeting on sidelines of UN

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US President Barack Obama stressed Egypt’s role in the security of the Middle East Thursday as he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi met for the first time on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Obviously, the US-Egyptian relationship has been an important cornerstone of our security policy and our policy in the Middle East for a very long time,” Obama said in remarks to reporters before the talks.

The leaders were to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the security situation in Libya and US and Arab action against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

As the US has stepped up its diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to cobble together a broad coalition against the Islamic State, Egypt has sought an expansion of this initiative to cover Islamist insurgents targeting Egyptian security forces mainly in the Sinai Peninsula bordering the Gaza Strip.

US-Egyptian relations have been strained since the army deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, last year.

Earlier Thursday, Obama also met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Obama highlighted Ethiopia’s counterterrorism cooperation against al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia. SAPA

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