Tillerson starts a tour of the Middle East in Cairo
The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in a press conference with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, on February 6, 2018 in Bogotá
The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, began a tour of the Middle East, meeting in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukri, and with the president, Abdel Fatah al Sisi, diplomatic sources reported on Monday.
Tillerson arrived in the Egyptian capital on Sunday night and immediately dined with Shoukri.
On Monday morning, the head of US diplomacy was to meet with staff members of the American embassy in Cairo, again with Shoukri and early in the afternoon with Sisi.
According to a head of the State Department, the talks in Cairo will focus on “regional issues of common interest such as Syria and Libya.” The fight against terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will also be addressed.
According to the same source, “issues of human rights and civil society are a topic of constant conversation with the Egyptians,” so the question should also be on the agenda of the meetings.
Tillerson’s visit comes just weeks before the presidential election in Egypt on March 26, when President Sisi will run for re-election.
Washington supports “an authentic and credible electoral process,” the US official said, noting the “concern” provoked by press reports about investigations of leading figures of the opposition in Egypt.
After Cairo, Tillerson plans to travel to Kuwait to participate in a ministerial meeting of the international coalition against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, led by Washington.
He will later travel to Amman to meet with King Abdullah II and Beirut for an interview with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Finally, he will fly to Ankara where he foresees “difficult” talks with Turkey, his ally within NATO, in particular about the conflict in Syria.