President Trump shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi in the Oval Office in April 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The White House announced Friday that President Trump would welcome Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi for a return visit to the White House next month.

The invitation marks a continuation of the Trump administration’s efforts to improve U.S. relations with Egypt after President Barack Obama refused to invite Sissi during his tenure because of concerns about his human rights record, including a crackdown on political dissent.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump and Sissi, a former military general, would “discuss strengthening the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt and building on our robust military, economic, and counterterrorism cooperation.”

Sissi’s earlier visit to the White House in April 2017, three months into Trump’s tenure, was the first by an Egyptian president in eight years. Appearing before the press in the Oval Office, Trump praised Sissi for doing “a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.”

A year ago, Trump called Sissi to congratulate him on a landslide reelection victory that critics derided as a sham, as challengers were arrested or pressured to withdraw.

Sissi’s upcoming visit, scheduled for April 9, comes in advance of a referendum in Egypt on constitutional changes that could potentially allow Sissi to remain in power until 2034.