Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Tillerson skipping Israel in Middle East tour

Carolyn Kaster  AP Carolyn Kaster AP
Ellis Copeland | 14 February, 2018, 20:06

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday, the State Department said.

Tillerson is also expected this week to visit Turkey, with which US ties have become badly strained over Washington's support for the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, regarded by Ankara as a terrorist group. But the officials said diplomacy is necessary to cement anti-IS gains and restore regional stability as the administration presses other nations and private companies to help with post-war reconstruction. She said it "mischaracterized the conference as a pledging conference", and it was not intended as such.

He made the announcement at the International Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) meeting at the level of foreign ministers, which kicked off on Tuesday.

When asked about Egypt's relations with North Korea, Shoukri pointed out that many US allies also have diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, but stressed that economic and other ties were minimal.

Tillerson said he also discussed with Shoukry a joint commitment by the United States and Egypt to defeat the Islamic State group, adding that their joint efforts are 'steadfast'.

Tillerson, who was speaking during a visit to Jordan to sign a five-year $6.4 billion aid package that extends USA support to a key Arab ally, said President Donald Trump would decide when to announce the peace plan.

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Iraq declared victory over IS in December, but the extremist group still has a presence in Syria, where the US-led coalition has backed a Kurdish-Arab alliance fighting the jihadists.

Tillerson, meanwhile, appealed for coalition members not to lose sight of their ultimate goal in Iraq and Syria at a critical moment with the mission shifting from offensive military operations to stabilization.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the US supports "a stable and viable Iraqi Kurdistan Region", as the two leaders met in Kuwait at an worldwide conference on funding Iraqi reconstruction, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert informed reporters on Tuesday. "They have been able to change two governments in the last seven years and they have undertaken legislative elections and know how to protect their rights and advocate".

Looming in the background is flaring tension between Iran and Israel. "ISIS's claim of having a functioning caliphate that governs populations is all but thwarted", the report says.

On Monday, a senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Michael Oren, said the USA was "not in the game" when it came to Syria, and Israel was counting on Russian Federation to keep the confrontation with Iran from spiralling into war.

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