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Kerry Says Egypt Has Key Role In Fight Against IS

John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Egypt has a key role to play in countering Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

He spoke at a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri on September 13 in Cairo -- the latest leg of a regional tour aimed at forging a coalition against the IS extremist group.

"As an intellectual and cultural capital of the Muslim world, Egypt has a critical role to play in publicly renouncing the ideology that [IS] disseminates," Kerry said.

Cairo is home to Al-Azhar University, one of the most revered centers of religious learning for Sunni Muslims.

Kerry also said Egypt was "on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to fighting extremist groups in Sinai."

Kerry added that Washington would hand over 10 Apaches to Egypt to use in antiterrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula.

The helicopters were withheld by the United States after the Egyptian army deposed Islamist President Muhammad Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, last year.

Egypt is one of 10 Arab countries that pledged this week to play a role in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State.

Shoukri said ties existed between the IS and other militant groups in the region and that global action was needed to counter the threat.

"There is no difference between the IS and terrorist organizations in Egypt," he said. "We are backing international efforts to confront terrorism wherever it is."

Also on September 13, Kerry held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo.

In Ankara on September 12, Kerry said he was confident the United States would form a broad-based coalition to fight IS militants.

Meanwhile, the family of a British hostage threatened with death by Islamic State militants have appealed to his captors to contact them.

In a message issued by the Foreign Office in London on September 13, the family of David Haines said the militants have not responded to any of their attempts to make contact so far.

Haines, 44, was threatened in a video showing the beheading by IS militants of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff which was released last week.

He had been working for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), an international relief charity, when he was seized in Syria in March.

Haines has worked in humanitarian aid since 1999, helping victims of conflict in the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa
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