Tough Turkey talks await Tillerson

Tough Turkey talks await Tillerson

Tillerson spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, hours after Israel's downing of an Iranian drone, subsequent strikes in Syria and the shooting down of an Israeli fighter jet.

Middle East messes await Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he embarks this weekend on a five-nation tour of the region.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press Turkey to rein in its military operation in northern Syria during a visit to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally next week, a senior US official said on Friday.

On Jan. 21, Jordan's King Abdullah told US Vice President Mike Pence that Washington must rebuild "trust and confidence" in a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians after President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Tillerson also will raise human rights and democracy issues, according to officials, who previewed the trip on condition they not be quoted by name. His meetings Monday include President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

In September, 2017, President Sisi met with U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72). The opposition is boycotting as some potential rivals have been arrested or barred from running.

Among the scheduled events, Tillerson will head the US delegation to the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State in Kuwait and participate in the Iraq Reconstruction Conference, which begins on February 13.

The U.S. officials said the aim was to keep the coalition focused on the complete defeat of IS and other groups, and then rebuilding war-devastated zones to prevent extremists from regaining territory.

Officials portrayed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Cairo, Kuwait City, Amman, Beirut and Ankara as a chance to build on US-led successes against the ISIL group. Some 2,300 representatives from the private sector, including from more than 100 American companies, are slated to attend. He will also meet with Kuwaiti officials who are attempting to mediate a resolution to the disagreements between Qatar and its Arab neighbors; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. Jordan, which has a large Palestinian population, including refugees, is among the most concerned.

USA citizen Serkan Golge, a NASA scientist who was arrested in July 2016, was convicted without credible evidence on February 8 by Turkish authorities for being a member of a terror organization.

"We are urging them to show restraint in their operations in Afrin and to show restraint further along the line across the (border) in northern Syria", a USA official told reporters in a conference call.