After falling flat in Mexico, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has tried his hand again at that whole statesman thing, this time meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
And once again, he was dogged by critics — although, to be fair, so was his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton — for her own meeting with the Egyptian strongman, on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Trump had flowery words for Cairo: “Under a Trump administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead,” according to a six-paragraph readout of the Monday night meeting, provided by his campaign.
Sisi, a retired general, has been accused of increasingly authoritarian rule and crackdown on political opposition since his election in 2014, after the military he led overthrew President Mohamed Morsi. Morsi headed the country’s Muslim Brotherhood movement and became Egypt’s first democratically elected leader following the 2011 revolution.
A small group of foreign policy experts, including Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations, urged both Clinton and Trump against meeting with Sisi, according to Politico. Both ignored the request.
Trump’s last dance on the world stage — the impromptu visit last month to Mexico for a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto — resulted in a Twitter spat over which leader said what about the GOP nominee’s infamous proposed “wall.” In turn, that prompted public opinion polls to plummet even further for an already unpopular Nieto, and the resignation of top Mexican officials.
Earlier Monday, Trump seized on the arrest of an Afghan-born U.S. citizen who is suspected of planting bombs in New York and New Jersey to repeat his plans to halt immigration from predominantly Muslim and Mideast nations. But within hours, he spoke to Sisi of his “high regard for peace-loving Muslims.”
Trump “understands that every day there are people of goodwill that sacrifice their lives and fortunes to combat the growing threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” the campaign readout said.
He’s also already planning invites for future White House state visits and foreign trips aboard Air Force One.
“Mr. Trump said that if he were fortunate enough to win the election in November, he would invite President el-Sisi on an official visit to the United States,” the readout said, “and would be honored to visit Egypt and the Egyptian people who he has a great fondness for.”
Photo credit: DOMINICK REUTER / Stringer