CAIRO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday, during a press conference with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry where the two discussed U.S. efforts to build a military coalition against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, that Egypt is an important ally to the United States.
Kerry arrived in Egypt earlier Saturday on the last leg of a regional trip to build support against IS.
In his comments, he described Egypt as an important intellectual and cultural center and said the U.S. supports it during its transition phase.
Kerry mentioned that he met during his visit President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and they discussed among other topics ideologies and confronting international terrorism.
Kerry said though IS says it is fighting in the name of defending Islam, it knows nothing about Islam.
During the press conference, Kerry mentioned his recent stop in Saudi Arabia to discuss the IS threat, and said Egypt’s role in thwarting extremism is critical, especially with the influence of its Dar al-Ifta and Al-Azhar. He said it was imperative to establish an international alliance with the Iraqi government to get rid of IS.
“Terrorists like ISIS have no place in the modern world,” Kerry said, adding that the next meeting between him and Shoukry will be held Monday in Paris, where they will revisit the topic of terrorism.
When asked about relations between the United States and Egypt, Kerry said that he had come to Egypt many times during his work in the U.S. Senate, and said Egypt was an important ally and a country with a very important history.
He added that Egyptians had made a huge transition in recent years to determine their future, and that “friends” should focus more on the deepness of their relationships and their common interests.
According to Kerry’s statements during the conference, Sisi assured him that parliamentary elections are going to be held soon, and that many procedures and steps are going to be taken to encourage investors to come to Egypt to achieve stability.
Answering a question about the 2013 Protest Law in Egypt and the high number of detained activists, Kerry said that he discussed that with the president, and that Sisi is aware of foreign concerns over human rights in the country.
He added that Sisi told him there may be a revision of the controversial law.
For his part, Shoukry said he agreed with Kerry’s comments on terrorism, and that Egypt will confront any terrorist group that “speaks in the name of Islam in attempts to reach political interests.”