Tillerson says US backs Egypt on security at start of regional tour

CAIRO (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday Washington stood by Egypt in its fight against Islamist militants as he began a Middle East tour at a time of increasingly complex local and proxy conflicts.

Tillerson also stressed the need for free and fair elections in all countries months ahead of a March presidential vote in Egypt, but he withheld direct comment on an alleged crackdown on opponents of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The United States has become more embroiled, diplomatically and militarily, in regional conflicts since President Donald Trump took office more than a year ago.

It stepped up support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria before its NATO ally Turkey began a military operation against them last month, and has sided firmly with Israel in recognising Jerusalem as its capital, angering Palestinians and drawing rebuke from Arab leaders.

The United States has also forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states while taking a tougher line against Iran since Trump took office.

Tillerson and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry delivered a message on Monday that relations remained strong with one of the key U.S. Arab allies.

“We agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counter-terrorism measures,” Tillerson said.

“The Egyptian people should be confident that the U.S. commitment in continuing

Article source: https://in.reuters.com/article/usa-tillerson-egypt/tillerson-says-us-backs-egypt-on-security-at-start-of-regional-tour-idINKBN1FW0XZ

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