Sisi: Don’t ‘jump to conclusions’ on Donald Trump

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi waits for a meeting with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the Palace Hotel on Sept. 19, 2016 in New York. (AFP)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has praised US President-elect Donald J. Trump, saying that his inflammatory statements from the campaign trail do not necessarily reflect the actions he will take as president.

Sisi, in an interview with Portuguese news agency LUSA released on Saturday, said, "let's not jump into conclusions or worry" about future US actions or policies in the Middle East. The army chief-turned-president was interviewed prior to his upcoming Nov. 21 visit to Portugal.

Sisi was among the very first foreign leaders to congratulate Trump's on his presidential victory.

"We have to distinguish between the rhetoric that takes place within presidential campaigns and the real and actual administration of a country after the inauguration," he said. "There will be a chance for more thorough readings."

Presidential-Elect Donald Trump looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during their meeting in September. (AFP)

Presidential-Elect Donald Trump looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during their meeting in September. (AFP)

Sisi's remarks echoed sentiments that have been circulating on local and regional media, with columnists speculating that Trump campaign rhetoric - such as his call for a ban on Muslims entering the US - will be watered down.

Trump and Sisi have already shown a certain bond. Trump said there was "good chemistry" when they met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September. Sisi said Trump would "without a doubt" make a strong leader.

Sisi, who was elected in 2014 after leading the military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, has painted himself as a regional leader in the fight against Islamic militancy - a stance that echoes Trump's priorities.

The prospect of warmer relations with Trump comes after years of comparative chill between Sisi and outgoing US President Barack Obama.

After the ouster of Mursi and the subsequent lethal crackdown on Islamist supporters, the Obama administration voiced criticism and briefly suspended part of the Egypt's robust American aid package.

Egypt's pro-government media have often railed against Obama, accusing the US of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other dissident groups. Many of those pro-government media outlets are now
cheering Trump's victory.

Observers believe that Trump is less likely to take Egypt to task over human rights. Instead, he could offer Sisi international political support as the Egyptian leader battles ISIS group-linked militants in the Sinai peninsula and in neighboring Libya.

"I believe that President Trump will be vigorously engaged with the issues in the region," Sisi said. "As a matter of fact, Trump has shown deep and great understanding of what is taking place in the region as a whole and Egypt in particular. I am looking forward and expecting more support and reinforcement of our bilateral relations."

Last Update: Saturday, 19 November 2016 KSA 18:55 - GMT 15:55