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On his first Mideast tour as Pentagon chief, Hagel meeting Egyptian leaders on military ties

At the midpoint of a weeklong Mideast tour, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is heading to Cairo for his first face-to-face meetings with Egypt's top leaders. He planned to stress the value of close military ties between the two countries.

Washington wants to maintain a good working relationship with the Egyptian military as the Mideast linchpin struggles to make a transition to democracy.

Hagel was scheduled to meet Wednesday with President Mohammed Morsi and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Hagel was flying to Cairo from Riyadh, where he met Tuesday evening with top officials, including Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who serves as the kingdom's defense minister as well.

Hagel also held talks Tuesday in Jordan and Israel.