Kerry on Mideast Trip to Cairo, Doha

Kerry on Mideast Trip to Cairo, DohaKerry on Mideast Trip to Cairo, Doha

US Secretary of State John Kerry left for Egypt for cooperation talks and to Qatar, where he hopes to ease Persian Gulf countries’ concerns over the Iran nuclear deal.

The trip, which ends August 8, will not include a stop in Israel, one of Washington’s closest allies and a fierce critic of the newly-hatched agreement, AFP reported.

During his stop in Egypt Sunday, Kerry will meet with his counterpart Sameh Shoukri for a “strategic dialogue” between the long-time allies, which have had a tumultuous relationship in recent years, following political unrest in the northern African nation.

The “dialogue” between the two officials is the first since 2009 and comes in the wake of an announcement this week that Washington began the delivery of eight F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

In addition to military cooperation, Kerry and Shoukri will discuss Washington’s human rights concerns.

“We’ll certainly be discussing the issue of the political environment, human rights issues while the secretary is in Cairo. That is an important part of our regular dialogue,” a US State Department official said.

Kerry will travel to Doha Monday to meet with his counterparts from (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states.

On the sidelines of the (P)GCC meetings, Kerry is set to meet with Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov on a number of issues, including the crisis in Syria.

Israel, however, is not on Kerry’s itinerary. Kerry has not been to the country in several months, as relations have soured over the Iran deal.