US Egypt dialogue
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens (C) during the opening of a US-Egypt strategic dialogue at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo August 2, 2015. Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

CAIRO (Reuters) - The United States and Egypt began strategic dialogue talks on Sunday, their first since their relationship was strained by the military ouster of President Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule in 2013.

Despite U.S. lawmakers' concerns that Egypt is lagging on democratic reforms, Egypt remains one of Washington's closest security allies in the region.

"The launching of the strategic dialogue today is a serious chance for the two sides to review the different parts of the Egyptian-American relationship, politically, militarily and economically and assessing this relationship in all respects," Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said in his opening remarks.

Shukri said he hoped the dialogue would "deepen" bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Relations had cooled after Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown by the military in 2013 after mass protests against his rule, but ties with former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was later elected to succeed him, have steadily improved.

The countries last held wide-ranging strategic talks in Dec. 2009.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Yara Bayoumy)