The United States and Egypt are returning to a “stronger base” in bilateral ties despite tensions and human rights concerns, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday after talks with his Egyptian counterpart.
“Egypt remains vital … to engagement and stability in the region as a whole,” Reuters quoted Kerry as saying after the two countries’ first bilateral strategic dialogue since 2009.
“There are obviously circumstances where we have found reason to have grave concern and we have expressed it very publicly,” he said at a news conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri. “But we have multiple issues that we need to work on simultaneously.”
US-Egyptian relations cooled after Islamist president Mohamed Mursi was ousted in 2013 by the military amid mass protests against his rule.
Cairo remains one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East, an increasingly crucial role in a region beset by turmoil in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
Kerry also lobbied for last month’s nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which has been met with scepticism by Washington’s Arab allies.
“There can be absolutely no question that the Vienna plan, if implemented, will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be,” he said.
Shukri said Cairo had no major disagreements with Washington, only “differences in points of view over some issues, which is natural”.
Washington supports former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led Mursi’s overthrow and was elected to succeed him, but has cautiously criticized Egypt’s human rights record.
Following Mursi’s ouster, Cairo cracked down on the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and jailed thousands more, and later pursued liberal activists, the report said.
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