US may seek longer stay in Syria to create quasi-state: Lavrov — Zio-Watch, February 16, 2018

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has arrived in Cairo, Egypt, beginning a trip through the Middle East as he faces confrontational talks at almost every stop on his five-country tour.

Tillerson started his trip on Sunday, but a key US ally, Israel, is conspicuously absent from his itinerary.

When the trip was first announced this week, with stops in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Kuwait, Israeli politicians rebuked Tillerson for skipping Israel.

“The consistent absence of the Secretary of State [from] Israel is probably unprecedented,” former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro tweeted.

Shapiro called Tillerson not stopping in Israel a “mistake” and tweeted it was “yet another blow to Tillerson’s credibility as an authoritative voice for US policy.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, Tillerson said Washington remained committed to achieving a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel.

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