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Obama Urges el-Sissi to Respect Rights of Egyptians

Presidential candidate and former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi arrives with his bodyguards at a polling station in Cairo, May 26, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, to invest in the political, economic and social aspirations of the Egyptian people.

In a telephone conversation Thursday, Obama expressed concerns about mass trials, the continued imprisonment of journalists and peaceful activists, and the status of non-governmental organizations.

Hundreds of opposition members in Egypt have been sentenced to death in swift trials, and many journalists are serving lengthy prison terms.

Obama also expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people who have suffered a series of terrorist attacks. He affirmed the continued U.S. commitment to partnership with Egypt in combating terrorism and boosting regional security.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of the military and intelligence partnership, and pledged to maintain contact in the coming weeks and months.

After the fall of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt was ruled by Mohammed Morsi, one-time head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi was ousted in a military coup last year, following massive protests against his authoritarian rule.

Since then, the new government headed by el-Sissi has carried out massive arrests and trials against the opposition, mostly Muslim Brotherhood members.