Florida Senator Marco Rubio joined Democratic Senators Jim Risch and Bob Menendez among others in directing a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for him to raise key issues and concerns with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at an upcoming scheduled bilateral meeting that will be held later this week.
In the letter, the lawmakers expressed that “there is strong, bipartisan support in Congress for a security partnership with Egypt that addresses our shared challenges and twenty-first century threats.”
The lawmakers then urged Secretary Pompeo to use the meeting as an opportunity to convey their concerns regarding democratic governance, political freedom and economic reforms along with fundamental human rights.
The three major concerns that they highlighted include the fact that “Egypt has unjustly detained more than a dozen Americans,” which they argue “is simply unacceptable for a foreign government to unjustly detain American citizens and deny them fundamental legal and political rights.”
The lawmakers called for the immediate release of said Americans.
The second concern is “about Egypt’s reported purchases of 20 Russian Sukhoi SU-35s,” arguing that “their deepening relations with Russia, which also includes the loan that Moscow has provided to construct the nuclear power plant at Dabaa.”
And, the third concern is “the erosion of political and human rights,” which includes “proposed amendments to Egypt’s constitution that the parliament is currently considering” that “would erode the independence of Egypt’s judiciary, giving President Sisi the power to hand select the head of judicial bodies, and may ultimately allow President Sisi to extend his rule until 2034.”
The lawmakers concluded by asserting that “a strong and sustainable U.S.-Egypt strategic partnership is vital for both countries, but it requires Egypt to make a tangible effort to make those reforms.” And, they noted that they “welcome President Sisi’s visit during this critical time and encourage a frank and open dialogue with our strategic partner.”