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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: KHALED DESOUKI / AFP / Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in Cairo on Saturday for around three hours, according to the Washington Post, and said that while the countries had previously been "drifting apart," ties had "never been stronger" than under Trump.

Why it matters: NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports that the three hour meeting "focused heavily on counter-terrorism." They also discussed two Americans who were imprisoned in Egypt in 2013, WaPo reports, and Sisi told Pence he would give their cases "very serious attention." Pence and Sisi also discussed terrorism, North Korea, and religious freedom.

  • One more thing: Egyptian security originally blocked the press from entering the presidential palace where Pence was meeting with Sisi, until they were allowed in to cover "brief statements...that only happened after intense negotiation between Pence's staff and Egyptian authorities," per WaPo. The next stop on Pence's Middle East tour is Jordan.

Go deeper

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.

5 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 drives smell loss awareness, research

A health worker carries out an olfactory test outside Buenos Aires. Photo: Alejandro Pagni/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.

Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
7 hours ago - Health

Why we need to know COVID's origins

The WHO's headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.

Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.