Joe Biden, the President of the United States, arrived in Egypt on Friday for a global climate meeting with a massive domestic investment in tow. It is likely that he will be questioned about the extent to which the United States is willing to go in order to get other major greenhouse gas emitters on board.
It is the first stop on an around-the-world trip that will also take him to a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Cambodia and a Group of 20 summit meeting for leaders of the world’s largest economies in Bali, Indonesia. His attendance at the United Nations climate conference COP27, which is being held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, is the first stop on the trip.
Shortly after touching down in Egypt, President Joe Biden met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, with whom he planned to talk about the strategic cooperation between the United States and Egypt, as well as the conflict between Israel and Palestine and other regional security challenges.
Aides in the White House stated before the visit that President Biden would bring up the subject of human rights with President El-Sissi, whose government has taken a more authoritarian turn in recent years. Before they had their one-on-one discussion, the Egyptian leader took the initiative to bring up the issue with Vice President Biden.
“We are very keen on improving this part,” said El-Sissi, who highlighted that Egypt had created a national policy on human rights. Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s family said they were told by prison officials that he was undergoing an undefined medical intervention in the midst of a hunger strike that escalated on Sunday. Alaa Abdel-Fattah, an Egyptian pro-democracy activist who is in jail, was also on Biden’s and other top officials’ agendas.
According to Biden’s statement, the two countries are “continuing our discourse on human rights,” and he said that he hopes that in the future they will be “closer and stronger in every manner.” Following his brief stay in Egypt, President Biden will continue his trip to Cambodia to attend a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The goal of this trip is to show that the US is still committed to the area, even though China is becoming more aggressive.
Egypt’s role as host of the climate summit has increased the focus of world attention on the country’s severe restrictions on freedom of speech and political participation. Since 2013, el-Sissi’s government has been cracking down harder on political opponents and critics. Thousands of people have been sent to jail, protests have been made illegal, and social media is being watched.