US SoS speaks of Washington's desires for Middle East during Egypt trip

USA MIDDLE EAST | 10 de enero de 2019

Cairo, Jan 10 (efe-epa).- The United States' secretary of state said Thursday, during his visit to the Egyptian capital, that his country has learned from the mistakes it committed in the Middle East and vowed to continue fighting terror organizations.

Mike Pompeo spoke at the American University in Cairo as part of a whirlwind tour of the most populous Arab country, which comes after US President Donald Trump announced last month a pullout of US troops from Syria.

"American troops are coming home from Syria, but this is not a change of mission. We remain committed to the complete dismantling of the ISIS (Islamic State) threat and the ongoing fight against radical Islamist terror. We are looking to our partners to do more going forward," Pompeo said.

Cairo-Washington ties have been close for the past 40 years since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 following the US-brokered Camp David peace accords of September 1978.

The peace between Israel and Egypt ultimately led the US to provide the latter with $1.3 billion in military aid annually.

Pompeo praised the efforts of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in guaranteeing the coexistence of Christianity and Islam, days after the al-Sisi administration inaugurated the country's biggest cathedral and mosque in the New Administrative Capital, located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the east of Cairo.

"I applaud President al-Sisi's efforts to promote religious freedom which stands as an example for all leaders and all peoples of the Middle East," the US' top diplomat said.

Pompeo acknowledged that some have criticized the US' role in the Middle East; yet, he asked his audience to "just look around you at this university (the American University in Cairo) which has existed now for a century."

"It is not a coincidence that many other American universities like this one thrive all across the Middle East... (American universities) are symbols of America's innate goodness, of our hopes for you and of the better future we desire for all nations of the Middle East," he added.

On Tuesday, Pompeo began his Middle East tour with a visit to Jordan followed Wednesday by a trip to Iraq to meet with government leaders and Kurdish-Iraqi regional leaders.

The American secretary of state is set to visit Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait in the coming days.

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