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Trump and Sisi discuss fighting terrorism in phone call

Trump also said he was 'looking forward' to Sisi's visit to Washington that is currently being prepared, according to an Egyptian statement
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a caller on the other end of the phone line as volunteers man a phone bank prior to a rally on 12 September, 2016 (AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed fighting terrorism and extremism with US President Donald Trump in a telephone call, and Trump applauded Egypt's efforts on those fronts, Sisi's office said on Monday.

Trump told Sisi he appreciates the difficulties faced by Egypt in its "war on terror" and affirmed his administration's commitment to supporting the country, Sisi's spokesman Alaa Youssef said in a statement.

"The US President also expressed during the call his looking forward to the President's awaited visit to Washington which is being prepared for through diplomatic channels," the statement said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing that Trump and Sisi "discussed ways to deepen the bilateral relationship and support Egypt's fight against terrorists".

"President Trump underscored the United States remains strongly committed to the bilateral relationship, which has helped both countries overcome challenges in the region for decades," Spicer added.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the first leader from the Arab world to congratulate Donald Trump after his election victory and said he hoped the US president-elect would "pump new life" into Egyptian-American relations.

A statement from the Egyptian presidency at the time emphasised the “special, strategic relationship” between Egypt and the United States that it said had lasted for decades.

Trump met with Sisi in New York last September at the United Nations, the first time a Republican presidential candidate had met a leader from the Muslim world.

Trump told Sisi that "under a Trump administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on".

Sisi came to power after staging a military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The former defence minister’s harsh crackdown against the group and its supporters led to the killing of hundreds of unarmed protesters, and the jailing of thousands.

On 14 August 2013, security forces violently dispersed protests at Rabaa square, the focal point of pro-democracy protests during the crisis.

More than 1,150 people were killed across Egypt – 817 in Rabaa alone - in what Human Rights Watch has called the “worst single-day killing of protesters in modern history”.

Obama briefly suspended arms sales to Egypt in response, and though he later reversed that decision, relations between the now former US president and Cairo did not recover.