Egypt's Shukri, Kerry discuss security challenges, cooperation in Washington D.C.

Wednesday 10-02-2016 03:35 AM

CAIRO, Feb. 10 (Aswat Masriya) – Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday as part of Shukri's three-day visit to Washington D.C.

The visit, which began on Sunday, aims to bolster bilateral ties, Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.

In a press conference held on Tuesday, Shukri affirmed the significance of the Egyptian-U.S. strategic relationship and expressed the desire to further strengthen bilateral relations and heighten cooperation.

Coordination between Egypt and the U.S. has been efficient on the level of the U.N. Security Council as well as through joint meetings regarding the situation in Syria, Libya, Iraq as well as coordination concerning the "fight against terrorism," Shukri stated.

Kerry applauded Egypt's efforts with regards to the Syrian crisis and asserted that Egypt plays a pivotal role in the region.  

Approaching the end of the press conference, Kerry mentioned that Egypt is in coordination with Israel, Jordan and the U.S. regarding Sinai and its eastern border with Gaza in particular. Kerry added that Egypt's role in the Israeli-Palestinian political process was discussed in today's meeting.

Egypt's relations with the U.S. turned tense when the U.S. partially halted its military aid to the Middle Eastern country following the military ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, after mass protests against his rule. Military aid has nevertheless eventually resumed. 

The U.S. currently provides Egypt with $1.3 billion to support Egypt's "security and military efforts to confront terrorism."

Regarding Syria, Kerry urged Egypt to continue its efforts at bolstering humanitarian assistance and prompting a ceasefire.

On Tuesday, the U.N. warned of an imminent massive outpour of refugees if Syrian government forces encircle rebel-held parts of Aleppo, Reuters reported.

Peace talks have largely come to a standstill after the Syrian government, backed by Russia, launched an offensive in Aleppo.

Syria's mainstream rebels are now threatened with collapse after the regime severed their main supply line to Aleppo city, AFP reported.

Kerry suggested that Russian strikes have been obstructing peace talks, urging Russia to become a "constructive" participant in peace talks, in Tuesday's press conference.  

An upcoming meeting for members of the International Support Syria Group is scheduled to take place on Thursday in Munich.

The group, which includes Russia and Iran, is meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. 

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