Egypt, US to resume suspended military exercise

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Cairo, Sep 6 (IANS) Egypt will host the joint Egyptian-US military exercise known as “The Bright Star” from September 10 to 20 at a military base in the Arab country, a Egyptian military spokesman said in a statement.

“The Bright Star is considered one of the most important joint exercises for both the Egyptian and the American armed forces, which reflects the depth of relations and the level of military cooperation between the two sides,” said Egyptian military spokesman Tamer al-Refaay in the statement on Tuesday.

Launched in 1981, the joint biennial training has been suspended since 2009, due to the ouster of former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi following mass protests in 2011 and 2013 respectively, Xinhua news agency reported.

Later dissatisfaction of former US President Barack Obama’s administration with the Egyptian new leadership led to suspension of the Bright Star as well as halting annual US military aid to Egypt of $1.3 billion.

Assuming the Oval Office in January, new US President Donald Trump promised to resume both the exercise and the aid to Egypt under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Both Trump and Sisi have repeatedly exchanged remarks of praise and promised further cooperation and partnership.

The Egyptian military spokesman noted that the training will focus on the fields of security cooperation and counterterrorism amid the ongoing unconventional anti-terror war.

Earlier in April, the Egyptian and the US navies launched on a joint exercise in the waters of the Red Sea, dubbed “Eagle Salute 2017,” where Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Pakistan participated as monitors.

The Bright Star resumption comes a couple of weeks after Washington said it would withhold some $300 million in aid to Egypt over human rights concerns.

Egypt receives annually about $1.5 billion in US military and economic aid since it signed the 1979 US-sponsored peace treaty with Israel.

–IANS

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