US Secretary of State Kerry in Cairo for start of 'strategic dialogue'
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) talk before a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
The first of its kind in six years, a strategic dialogue kicked off Sunday in Cairo between Egypt and the US, led by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his US counterpart, John Kerry.
The US delegation include among others Charles Rivkin, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, and David Thorne, Kerry's senior advisor.
The dialogue is expected to last two days.
"The upcoming dialogue is aimed to boost the bilateral strategic partnership between Egypt and US, especially after relations between Cairo and Washington became strained during the past two years," said foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty in press statements last week.
"This dialogue is to have a fresh start with the US, especially with the new transition Egypt is taking," Abdel Atty added.
Egypt and the US have maintained a decades-long strategic political and military relationship since 1979, which marked the signing of the peace treaty with Israel. The US provides Cairo $1.3 billion in military aid annually.
However, US-Egyptian relations became tense when the US maintained a critical position towards the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
In October 2013, the United States announced the suspension of parts of its annual military aid to Egypt in protest at the government's crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters following Morsi's ouster.
But last March, the Obama administration resumed US aid despite its continuing criticism and "concerns" over Egypt's human rights record.
On 11 June, the US House of Representatives agreed on the budget of the fiscal year 2016. No changes were made to the level of military aid to Egypt.
On Friday, Egypt delivered eight F-16 airplanes from the US as part of the aid package to the Egyptian military.
“The F-16s provide a valuable capability that is needed during these times of regional instability," said the US embassy's senior defence official in Cairo, Major General Charles Hooper.
According to the embassy, the US will deliver four more F-16s to Egypt this autumn.
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