Tillerson considers Israel visit amid Iran tensions

Tillerson considers Israel visit amid Iran tensions

Tillerson considers Israel visit amid Iran tensions

Israel said it destroyed an Iranian drone that entered its airspace, and an Israeli plane was shot down over Syria.

Prior to the weekend's flare-up, ex-US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro criticized Tillerson's decision to skip Israel while in the Middle East.

US officials agreed Friday that most of Tillerson's discussions will likely be hard, saying those with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey will probably be especially prickly given Turkish military action against USA -backed Kurdish rebels in northern Syria and escalating anti-American rhetoric in Ankara.

Tillerson will arrive in Cairo late Sunday, days after Egyptian security forces launched major security operations against militants in the Sinai, Nile Delta and Western Desert. Tillerson also will raise human rights and democracy issues, according to officials, who previewed the trip on condition they not be quoted by name. But Washington also is concerned about threats to democracy and civil rights in the country, as President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi has quashed any meaningful opponents to his bid for reelection next month.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric based in the US, of orchestrating the attempted coup.

In Jordan, Tillerson is doing damage control after President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and decision to withhold aid money from the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees. The opposition is calling for a boycott of the vote, after serious challengers were either arrested or forced to quit the race.

The Secretary will lead the USA delegation to the Ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Kuwait and participate in the Iraq Reconstruction Conference.

Tillerson will seek to sharpen the priorities of the coalition, many of whose members are increasingly distracted by national interests in Iraq and Syria.

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U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson was expected to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt on Monday, diplomatic sources said, as he started a tour of the West Asia. The Secretary and his counterparts will discuss how the 74-member Global Coalition can ensure an enduring defeat for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while sharpening the Coalition's focus on denying ISIS's global ambitions. Instead, he will press companies and banks to boost activities in Iraq to spur long-term development.

The Secretary will meet with senior Egyptian officials in Cairo to discuss the US-Egypt partnership, how we can further strengthen it, and coordinate on key regional issues.

Speaking of US-Turkish relations, he added: "Look it's hard".

Tillerson will conclude the trip in Ankara with talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which are expected to be tense.

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may include Jerusalem in his visit to the region this week, amid a sserious military crisis on Israel's northern border, a US official told The Jerusalem Post.

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