US President Donald Trump has called the coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “his favorite dictator,” while waiting for a meeting with him on the sidelines of the recent G7 summit in France, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to the American newspaper, Trump was waiting for a meeting with Sisi at the hotel “Hotel du Palais” in the French city of Biarritz, when asked “Where is my favorite dictator?” Loud enough to be heard by a small gathering of US and Egyptian officials.
The paper quoted witnesses believing that Trump joked, but pointed out that his question was met with amazing silence.
According to eyewitnesses, the US side included Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, then national security adviser John Bolton. Egypt side included Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.
It was not possible to say whether Sisi had heard that or not. The White House declined to comment on the event, while the newspaper said it was unable to contact with the Egyptian officials for comment.
Trump met Sisi and praised his relationship with him, mentioning that they began talking to each other shortly after Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
The journal said that Sisi has faced widespread criticism of his “authoritarian” rule since taking office in 2013, as it accused the Egyptian authorities of detaining thousands of political opponents, torturing and killing prisoners and thwarting political opposition, according to reports by the United Nations, the US State Department and non-governmental groups.