Kerry: Egypt on frontline in fight against terrorism

Published September 14th, 2014 - 06:45 GMT

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that Egypt was a key element in the fight against Islamist militancy in the Middle East.

"Egypt is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to fighting extremist groups in Sinai," Kerry said at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri in Cairo on Saturday.

"That is why in an effort to support, we announced last month the delivery" of Apache helicopters, he added.

On Tuesday, Kerry launched a diplomatic initiative aimed at building a coalition against the Islamic State with a trip to the Middle East to visit potential partners. The US’s top diplomat was in Jordan on Tuesday and headed to Baghdad on Wednesday.

"We believe the only way to eliminate the Islamic State is by creating a global coalition that will support the Iraqi government," Kerry stated at the Saturday press conference.

Shoukry said that ties existed between the Islamic State, a militant group which has occupied large parts of Iraq and Syria, and other extremist groups in the region, and that global action was needed to counter the threat.

"There is consensus that solving this problem will result in the achievement of stability and remove the causes of terror on the regional and international level,” he said.

Earlier today Kerry met with Arab League chief Nabil El-Arabi in Cairo to discuss the issue.

El-Arabi said in a statement to the press shortly after the meeting that Kerry was informed about the details of a meeting between Arab foreign ministers that had taken place last Sunday.

He said that Arab states had vowed to confront extremism in the region, politically, economically, militarily and culturally.

In June, the US sent $572 million in aid to Egypt, the first tranche of a promised $1.5 billion in aid, primarily military, which had been frozen since October 2013 in the face of Egypt’s political transition. The US had demanded Egypt "introduce democratic reforms" before the aid delivery was resumed.

AFP reported that Kerry also had "frank" talks on human rights with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi Saturday in a meeting to bolster an anti-Islamic State coalition.

"The United States doesn't ever trade its concern for human rights for any other objectives," Kerry said at the conference.

"And we had a frank discussion about concerns that have been expressed. I believe that President El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukri and others are well aware of concerns that have been expressed." 

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