Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began his mid-February visit to the Middle East in Egypt, one of the United States’ closest allies in the region. There he met with his counterpart, Foreign Secretary Sameh Shoukry, to discuss some of the issues and challenges of interest to both countries.
Top among these is security. Last November, terrorists attacked a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula and killed over 300 people. Since then, Egypt’s armed forces have been focused on clearing the country of militants.
“Egypt’s been battling this level of extremism for many years, and we continue to be steadfast partners in their response to these attacks throughout this time,” said Secretary of State Tillerson:
“We agreed that we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures, including our joint commitment to the defeat of ISIS, and Egypt has been a very important member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition from the beginning.”
The two also discussed the importance of the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as the vital role of civil society in Egypt. Noting that Egypt will hold a Presidential election from March 26th to the 28th, Secretary of State Tillerson said that “the United States, as it does in all countries, supports a transparent and credible electoral process, and all citizens being given the right and the opportunity to participate freely and fairly.”
On a similar note, the United States and Egypt support the United Nations’ Action Plan for Libya for credible and peaceful elections in their country, in hopes of promoting stability and economic growth in Libya. Secretary of State Tillerson noted that the United States hopes to continue supporting Egypt in its own economic recovery, particularly now that Egypt has smoothed the path by implementing a number of tough, but necessary, economic reforms.
The United States, said Secretary of State Tillerson, commits itself to standing shoulder to shoulder with Egypt in the fight against terrorism, and to help stabilize the entire Middle Eastern region.