WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Egypt’s president called for increased U.S. military aid and creation of a regional coalition to fight Islamic State in an interview with Fox News that aired on Monday, just days before the United States sends its top diplomat to the country.
“It is very important for the United States to understand that our need for the weapons and for the equipment is dire, especially at the time when the Egyptians feel they are fighting terrorism and they would like to feel the United States is standing by them in that fight against terrorism,” said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Sisi after he arrives in Egypt on Thursday for the Egypt Economic Development Conference, the State Department said on Monday.
Kerry will also meet with other senior Egyptian leaders to discuss “a range of bilateral and global issues,” including efforts against Islamic State militants, Libya and Syria’s crisis, according to the department.
As the region grapples with the rise of Islamic State, which has seized parts of Syria and Iraq, political leaders of the five Gulf Arab states, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey have been meeting to forge unity and work together.
“The region is facing very tough circumstances now,” Sisi said through a translator. “The public opinion wants to see a big response from capable countries - countries that are able to provide assistance to it.”
The United States has been leading an international air coalition that has been striking Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria.
Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Peter Cooney