Kerry assures US Middle East allies that the Iran deal makes them ‘safer’
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to assure Middle East allies that the Iran nuclear deal would make them safer, as he began a regional tour in the Egyptian capital on Sunday.
Kerry met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry to patch up troubled relations between the two countries with a pledge of support.
He was to later meet President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi before flying to Qatar to meet Gulf Arab counterparts.
Egypt, and other countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia, are suspicious of Iran, which they view as bent on destabilizing their countries.
“There can be
absolutely no question that if the Vienna plan is fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be or were,” Kerry told a joint Cairo press conference with Shoukry.
“The United States and Egypt recognize that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities in the region — and that is why it is so important to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful,” he said.
“If Iran is destabilizing, it is far, far better to have an Iran that doesn’t have a nuclear weapon than one that does.”
Ties between the U.S. and Egypt had frayed after then army chief elSissi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
More than 1,000 of Morsi’s sup- porters were killed in a sweeping crackdown on protests, and militants have since killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.
Most of the attacks have been conducted by the Egyptian affiliate of the jihadist Islamic State group, which a U.S.-led coalition is battling.
Kerry spoke of the need for a “balance” between fighting militants and respecting human rights in Egypt.
The “U.S. and Egypt are moving back to a stronger base of relationship,” Kerry said at the press conference.
“There has been a little bit of tensions here and there over certain issues. The U.S. has expressed concerns about some of the challenges of human rights protection.”