President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is expected to meet US republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the sidelines of his visit to New York, state news agency MENA reported.
Al-Sisi will arrive in New York on Sunday afternoon to attend the 71st debate of the United Nations (UN) general assembly.
Besides this, the Egyptian president is also expected to hold a set of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from France, Jordan, Palestine, and the UK, as well the US democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Hassan Nafaa, political science professor at Cairo University, told Daily News Egypt that before this, Egypt did not attend the general assembly on a regular basis—Al-Sisi is keen to attend every year for reasons related to the internal situation in Egypt. “It is linked to the regime’s objective to defend its legality,” Nafaa said.
This is the third time Al-Sisi will attend the general assembly since his appointment in 2014. Despite the variety of meetings he participated in and bilateral talks he held, the Egyptian president did not get to meet his US counterpart Barack Obama during this year’s visit.
According to Nafaa, this is the result of a strain in formal diplomatic relations between the US and Egypt. However, for this year’s visit, meeting Obama should not be a concern as he will leave office by the end of this year, Nafaa said.
“Obama will already be resigning by the end of this year, so what counts is building diplomatic relations with upcoming presidents,” Nafaa said.
He added: “Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump is a must if he will meet Clinton. It would be a diplomatic mistake if he chose to only meet Clinton, and would also show prejudice on his part towards the candidates.”
The 71st general assembly is currently taking place at the UN headquarters in New York, while the debate will start on Monday, bringing together more than 190 country leaders from member states to discuss a wide range of ongoing international issues of common concern.
Al-Sisi has set a potential meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. According to political researcher on Palestine Mohamed Goma’a, the discussion is expected to focus on the succession of Abbas and the enforcement of the Arab Peace Initiative—Egypt recently decided to mediate between Israel and Palestine in order to put the initiative into effect.
A high-level summit on refugees and migrants will lead the general assembly week on Monday. Al-Sisi is expected to participate in this meeting and give a speech. The president is also expected to address the general assembly on Tuesday.
According to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, compelling all participating countries to acknowledge the rights of refugees and migrants during this year’s assembly is one of the key challenges.
Ban said in a statement on Sunday: “The challenges are enormous, but we should not forget the benefits. With the right approach, refugees and migrants can bring benefits to both their adoptive societies and their home countries.”