Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has become the White House’s lead communicator with Egypt’s military leadership, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled).

Hagel met Egypt’s military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, over lunch two months ago and has kept in close contact throughout the political turmoil in Cairo following the ouster of former President Mohammad Morsi. The rapport between the two men is seen as positive, and Hagel said that al-Sissi was a man policymakers in Washington could work with, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Defense Department officials recently announced the U.S. would continue with the prescheduled delivery of four F-16 fighters to Egypt as part of an annual aid package, according to Reuters. The Obama administration has avoided labeling Morsi’s fall as a coup, because the designation would jeopardize bilateral aid programs.

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