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Israel not on Tillerson's itinerary as Secretary of State begins MidEast tour

12 February 2018

WASHINGTON-A rare confrontation between Israel and Syria's Iran-backed military added unexpected new complications to plans by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for a five-city trip through the Middle East, where he already was set to confront strains.

The statement noted Tillerson will visit Turkey to discuss regional and bilateral issues with senior Turkish officials.

In Jordan, the Secretary will meet with King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein and Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Al-Safadi. The secretary meets relatively frequently with Israeli officials when they're in town and stays abreast of the issues.

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Tillerson is scheduled to held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on Monday over enhancing U.S-Egyptian partnership and coordinating cooperation over in major Mideast issues.

Among the scheduled events, Tillerson will head the USA 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 top envoy will also go to Lebanon to meet President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri in Beirut.

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He will visit North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey on the tour's final stop where the US diplomat is expected to encounter with hard issues regarding the U.S.'s support for the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Secretary will participate in events that highlight private sector opportunities to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and modernize key sectors of its economy to improve the lives of the Iraqi people.

Tillerson is expected to meet various senior officials on the margins of both meetings before leaving the region February 16.

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Israel not on Tillerson's itinerary as Secretary of State begins MidEast tour