Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

United States supports Egypt's war against terrorism: Tillerson


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

After Cairo, Tillerson jetted in to Kuwait to take part in a ministerial meeting of the US-led military coalition that has been battling the Islamic State group in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

The war against Daesh must remain the priority even though major combat operations are over, Tillerson said.

The group "remains a very determined enemy and is not yet defeated", Tillerson said Tuesday in Kuwait City at a conference dedicated to raising money for reconstruction in Iraq.

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

Tillerson, whose trip began Sunday, has already visited Egypt and is due in Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Turkey. Most, if not all, will go to Syrian Kurds, counted on by the U.S.to defeat IS forces, but seen by Turkey as terrorists in their own right.

Tillerson left open the possibility the US would restore previous years' funding levels to the agency, though he said other donors need to step up and offer more money. Ankara views the Kurds as an extension of a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and has threatened to advance on Manjib, another Kurdish-controlled area where USA troops are based.

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"We agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures", Tillerson said.

Tillerson said Iran should withdraw its forces and militias from Syria, where Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad. "History must not be allowed to repeat itself elsewhere", Tillerson said.

He also said that the primary threat to U.S. and Western interests from al-Qa'ida's global network through 2018 will be in or near affiliates' operating areas. It shows Kuwait's deep desire to see its northern neighbor have a stable government after the years of unrest following the 2003 US -led invasion that toppled Saddam.

Looming in the background is flaring tension between Iran and Israel.

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Abdullah, the first Arab leader to meet with Trump after his election, flew into Washington DC weeks after the president's inauguration to reportedly warn Trump against relocating the USA embassy to Jerusalem. Over the weekend, Israeli air forces exchanged fire with Iranian-backed Syrian air defenses after Iran reportedly flew a drone into Israeli air space.

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