Kerry as­sures US Mid­dle East al­lies that the Iran deal makes them ‘safer’

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NI­CO­LAS RE­VISE

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.”

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