Egypt's president leaves Cairo for Washington to meet Donald Trump

This file photo taken on Sept 20, 2016 shows then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (left) looking on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
This file photo taken on Sept 20, 2016 shows then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (left) looking on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York.PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO (REUTERS) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi left Cairo for Washington on Saturday (April 1) where both sides will seek a renewed relationship after tensions over Sisi's crackdown on opponents.

As well as meeting President Donald Trump, Sisi will see the top officials at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, where he will pitch for help with his countrys' ailing ecoomy.

The trip will be Sisi's first US state visit since being elected president in 2014 as former US President Barack Obama had never extended an invitation.

Sisi was elected a year after leading the military's ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood's president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests.

A senior White house official said on Friday (March 31) Trump "wants to use President Sisi's visit to reboot the bilateral relationship and build on the strong connection the two presidents established when they first met in New York last September".

Egypt has long been one of Washington's closest allies in the Middle East, receiving US$1.3 billion (S$1.8 billion) in US military aid annually. The country is fighting an Islamist insurgency in Sinai, and hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police have been killed fighting insurgents.

The bilateral relationship was strained when former President Barack Obama criticised Sisi for cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest Islamist group.

During his visit, Sisi is will also be meeting with International Monetary Fund chief and World Bank President "to discuss strengthening cooperation with both institutions in various economic fields", the statement said.

Egypt has been negotiating billions of dollars in aid from various lenders to help revive an economy hit by political upheaval since a 2011 revolt and to ease a dollar shortage that has crippled imports, drove away foreign investors and hampered its recovery.

Egypt received the first tranche of a three-year US$12 billion loan deal with the IMF and is expecting to receive the second tranche soon.

The second tranche of a US$3 billion loan from the World Bank was disbursed to Egypt last month.

The statement said Sisi is also scheduled to meet with leaders of the American chamber of commerce and heads of major United States companies to discuss investment opportunities in Egypt.