Kerry Arrives In Cairo For Weeklong Swing Through Mideast, Europe – NPR (blog)

Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri upon his arrival in Cairo on Sunday.i i

hide captionSecretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri upon his arrival in Cairo on Sunday.


Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri upon his arrival in Cairo on Sunday.

Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri upon his arrival in Cairo on Sunday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Sunday, and met with the country’s newest president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

NPR’s Jackie Northam, who is traveling with Kerry, says he is the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet with the former general. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“Egypt has had a long standing strategic relationship with the U.S. and receives hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. But Washington has grown concerned about the polarizing political environment under al-Sisi.

“U.S. officials traveling with Kerry say he will address the government’s heavy handed tactics against political opponents, mass trials and death sentences.

“On Saturday, an Egyptian court confirmed death sentences against one of the leaders of the Muslim brotherhood and more than 180 supporters.

“Kerry will also talk with al-Sisi about broader regional security concerns. This is the secretary’s first stop on a week-long swing through the Middle East and Europe, largely focused on what to do in Iraq.”

Quoting unnamed U.S. officials, The New York Times reports that part of this trip will be focused on prodding Arab states to “use their influence with Iraqi politicians and prod them to quickly form an inclusive government.” Kerry will also encourage them to stop funding Sunni militants that are part of the Islamic States in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Times adds:

“The group is largely self-sustaining because of success in extortion and its plundering of banks in Mosul, Iraq. But some funding ‘has flowed into Iraq from its neighbors,’ said a senior official on Mr. Kerry’s plane.

“‘That does not mean that it’s the result of an official government policy in many, if not most, cases,’ the official added. ‘But it does mean that some of these governments can do more to stop some of that facilitation.'”

Update at 11:28 a.m. ET. U.S. Not Responsible:

In a press conference following his meeting with al-Sisi, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is not responsible for what is happening in Iraq today.

“What is happening in Iraq is not happening because of the United States in terms of the current crisis,” Kerry said. “The United States shed blood and worked hard for years to provide Iraqis the opportunity to have their own governments.”

Kerry said the U.S. would like the Iraqi people to “find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq, that is prepared to be inclusive and share power in a way that will maximize the ability of Iraq to focus on the real danger at this moment from an external source which is [ISIS].”

Kerry added that the United States, however, will not dictate who Iraq’s next leader should be.

“That is up to the Iraqi people,” Kerry said.

Kerry Arrives In Cairo For Weeklong Swing Through Mideast, Europe – NPR (blog)}

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