Egyptian security officers checked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his top aides with a metal detector as they arrived for a meeting on Tuesday with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Reuters reported.
The procedure is an unusual screening for a senior State Department official, the report noted, as foreign officials usually extend every courtesy to Washington’s top diplomat.
Footage taken at the Egyptian presidential palace and seen by Reuters showed an official briefly raising a handheld metal-detecting wand to the lower part of Kerry’s jacket before waving him through for the meeting, which was to discuss how to stop the two-week conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.
Kerry appeared for only a few seconds in the footage, which showed his senior aides walking through a stationary metal detector and being checked with a handheld wand, the report said. At least one was asked to empty his pockets.
The aides included Kerry’s deputy chief of staff Jonathan Finer, senior adviser David Thorne and spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
The exact reasons for the screening is unknown. Relations between Washington and Cairo have been tense over the past year, after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the military.
In October, the United States announced it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt over its displeasure with the military's pace of restoring democracy following Morsi’s ouster.
U.S. law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
Recently, Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said he would not approve sending funds to the Egyptian military.
However, following Sisi’s election, he received a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama, who conveyed his desire to work together with Sisi.