'Egypt’s president has told CBS that his country and Israel, with whom it fought four wars, are cooperating against Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula, a startling and potentially damaging acknowledgment that could explain the Egyptian government’s request that the network not air the interview.
Excerpts from the interview released by CBS over the weekend also quoted President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as denying there are political prisoners in Egypt, where he has overseen one of the largest crackdowns on dissent in the country’s modern history since the ouster by the military, then led by him, of an Islamist but divisive president.
CBS, which is due to air the full interview Sunday on its show 60 Minutes, said it has rejected a request by the Egyptian government not to show it.
It did not say which part of the president’s comments the Cairo government objected to, but the cooperation with Israel, with whom Egypt has a 1979 peace treaty, appears to be the most contentious part.
El-Sissi gave the interview in New York about three months ago, when the Egyptian leader was there attending the U.N. General Assembly, but CBS did not say why it was not aired earlier.
Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Egypt’s military last year denied press reports that Egypt and Israel were cooperating against the militants in northern Sinai, a rugged region of mountains and desert bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip where Egyptian security forces have for years battled the extremists, now led by the Islamic State group.
According to the excerpts, el-Sissi was asked if his country’s cooperation with Israel was the closest ever between the two countries.'
Read more: Egypt tries and fails to get CBS to spike 60 Minutes interview with President el-Sissi in which he admits former enemy Israel has been helping fight Islamic militants in his country
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