Trump administration helps free detained aid worker in Egypt


I want you to know, in case there is any doubt, Trump said after receiving him in the White House (where Obama never gave access to the Egyptian president), that we support the fantastic work that President El Sisi has done in a very hard situation.

Egypt has released an Egyptian American woman who was imprisoned in Cairo for several years after Donald Trump struck a deal with the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian who holds US citizenship, was acquitted by a Cairo court on Sunday along with seven others who had worked with street children.

Hijazi's brother, Basel Hijazi, also attended the White House meeting, along with Trump aides Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Dina Powell.

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Tillerson said that decision will be made as part of a governmentwide review of Iran policy now under way. He said his administration would have more to say about the arrangement in the near future.

"She was kept in pretty isolating circumstances" and "not even her lawyers can have time with her", McMullen said of Hijazi, who was born in Egypt and grew up in Falls Church, Virginia.

A White House official who was not authorised to discuss the case by name and requested anonymity told AP Thursday evening that Hegazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian included in the case, had arrived in the Washington area. Earlier this week, Mattis had visited Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his Middle Eastern tour. "We're crying with relief to have them out".

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Trump has vowed to work closely with Arab allies in the fight against the Daesh.

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The case was seen by human rights groups as typical of authoritarian rule in Egypt under President Sisi, who assumed power in 2013. A US$12 billion (NZ$17 billion) loan a year ago from the International Monetary Fund and strict austerity measures have led to slow improvements, but Egypt still needs major outside investment and favourable financing.

Obama temporarily suspended military aid to Egypt following a bloody crackdown on Mursi's supporters.

During his presidential campaign, Trump expressed admiration for authoritarian leaders he felt were tough on terrorism and derided what he called Obama's "weak" leadership.

This month, as Sissi smiled beside him in the Oval Office, Trump said warmly: "We agree on so many things".

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"The president and the team worked behind the scenes in a much more productive way ... to achieve the results", he said.