Egyptian flag
Egyptian flagiStock

US President Joe Biden's administration on Tuesday approved the sale of 168 tactical missiles to Egypt, AFP reports.

The $197 million sale of the Raytheon-made Rolling Airframe Missiles was requested by the Egyptian navy to improve defense in coastal areas and around the Red Sea, the State Department said in a statement quoted in the report.

The State Department said in a statement that it approved the sale, subject to congressional review, as Egypt "continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East."

The approval comes even as the Biden administration has vowed to end support for Saudi Arabia's offensive operations in Yemen and has halted the sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates pending a review.

US-Egypt ties were strained under the Obama administration, which suspended American military aid to Egypt following the 2013 ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, before releasing it two years later.

Following the election of Donald Trump, however, ties improved. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi praised Trump after his election and said he expected greater engagement in the Middle East from his administration.

Biden has vowed a tougher stance on human rights. Tuesday’s move comes after a lawyer for Mohamed Soltan, a US citizen who has filed a lawsuit alleging torture in Egyptian custody, said that plain-clothes officers raided the homes of six family members Sunday, detaining two cousins.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that said the United States was aware and "looking into" the account.