CAIRO, July 12 (UPI) -- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welsh said dialogue with Egypt will resume soon signaling an ease in ties strained over Cairo's poor rights record.
Speaking after a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Ghait Wednesday, Welsh said the dialogue will pave the ground for discussing the future of bilateral relations and issues of common concern.
He said the discussions will focus primarily on key issues such as political and economic reforms in Egypt, along with development and human rights.
Region issues of common interest, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and developments in Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia will be at the core of the reinvigorated Egypt-U.S. dialogue, Welsh added.
U.S. relations with Egypt, Washington's main Arab ally, have been strained over Cairo's reluctance to introduce long-delayed political reforms and the Egyptian authorities' high-handedness in repressing opposition groups.
The U.S. official described Egypt as an important state for Washington, not only in the strategic sense but also in view of its role and influence for achieving peace and stability in the Middle East.
Welsh expressed hope that a mechanism will be put in place to secure continuous dialogue and consultations between the two countries which he said have big responsibilities at the international level and need to agree on many issues and discuss points of difference.
Welsh did not reveal any date for resuming the dialogue, but Egyptian official sources told United Press International that a high-ranking Egyptian team comprising intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Abul Ghait will travel to Washington on July 20 to kick off the first round of talks.
Egypt, the first Arab state which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, receives $2 billion of annual U.S. assistance.