Sep 25, 4:18 PM EDT

Obama says Egypt key to US security in Mideast

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NEW YORK (AP) -- President Barack Obama is highlighting the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt as a cornerstone of American security policy in the Middle East.

Obama is meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings. It's the first face-to-face meeting between Obama and el-Sissi, who was elected earlier this year.

Obama says they plan to discuss a range of security issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Libya and the Islamic State terrorist group wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, says Obama emphasized the need for Egypt to pursue democratic reforms. He says they had a "frank exchange" about U.S. concerns about human rights in Egypt.

Rhodes says Obama raised specific examples of concerns the U.S. has, including the detention of journalists.

A former army general, el-Sissi has faced international criticism for his ouster last year of Egypt's first freely elected president. U.S.-Egypt ties have been strained since the ouster but the U.S. has sought to urge Egypt to pursue a more democratic system.

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