CAIRO (AP) – Representatives from over 60 U.S. companies are wrapping up a two-day visit to Egypt of what was described as the largest such delegation in history. But critics say the visit strikes the wrong tone amid a government crackdown.

The visit, organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, included a personal envoy from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Rights groups criticized the visit’s timing as rewarding Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at a time when his government is increasingly cracking down on dissent, stifling critics and imprisoning opponents.

Conference members rebuffed the criticism, with one saying: “Prosperous economies are good for the citizens.”

Those attending also applauded el-Sissi’s government for tackling the country’s structural economic problems which have long kept private businesses away from one of the Middle East’s largest markets.

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