Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday that the U.S supports Egypt in its fight against the Islamic State and that they will continue their close cooperation on counter-terrorism measures.

During his tour in the Middle East, Tillerson also highlighted that free and fair elections are needed in all the countries and in Egypt, where they will elect their president in March. The United States has also tightened their relations with Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region, while a tougher line has been taking in the relations with Iran since Trump is in the office.

Rex W. Tillerson, united state secretary of state, egypt, middle east
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Image credit: Voa news

U.S relations with Egypt are strong

Tillerson and Sameh Shoukry, his Egyptian counterpart, showed to the world that the Egypt-American ties are getting stronger and that the cooperating is deeper especially when it comes to counter-terrorism measures.

Tillerson also showed support for the Kurdish-led forces in Syria before its NATO ally Turkey began a military operation against them. His Middle East tour started in Egypt which is one of the primary recipients of the foreign aid that comes from the United States. During his tour, the Secretary of State has reaffirmed the U.S decision of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The U.S. commitment in continuing to support Egypt in its fight against terrorism and bringing security for the Egyptian people is steadfast and will continue,” he said. “We agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counter-terrorism measures,” Tillerson said.

Shoukry said that both countries have agreed to carry out strategic dialogue talks between foreign ministers this year. He said that the relationship with the U.S. is essential to Cairo to achieve stability in the region.

Last week, Egypt started a massive military operation against the militants of the Islamic State to defeat this threat in the Sinai Peninsula.

Rex W. Tillerson, united state secretary of state, egypt, middle east
Tillerson says Egypt is one main ally of the United States in the Middle East. Image credit: U.S News

Concerns about the elections

Tillerson also met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before leaving the country. Al-Sisi is running against a single competitor in the upcoming elections on March 26-28. Other opponents retired from the competition. Egypt made clear that elections will be free and fair, but the opponents say that the government has carried out strategies against them.

In the U.S there is an ongoing concern about the human rights situation in Egypt. Last year, Washington cut off some financial aid to Egypt claiming that this country failed to improve human rights and democracy. During his visit to Egypt, Tillerson said that the United States support credible, and transparent elections in Egypt and elsewhere.

Tillerson said that the United States is entirely willing to support Egypt financially but first, the country has to implement the tough economic reforms that come along with a $12 billion International Monetary Fund loan.

The representatives of both nations said they had discussed the problems between Israel and Palestine, and said they hope for a peaceful solution between these peoples.

“We discussed how to reach a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two-state solution and the importance of maintaining U.S. efforts to reach this final settlement,” Shoukry said.

Source: Reuters