Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has told the US that its coalition to defeat the Islamic State group should be expanded to counter “terrorist hotbeds” across the Middle East and Africa.
The office of the Egyptian president late on Saturday stated that he had told US Secretary of State John Kerry that any coalition must be able to tackle all threats in the two regions.
“He stressed that any international coalition against terrorism must be a comprehensive alliance that is not limited to confront a certain organisation or to curb a single terrorist hotbed but must expand to include all the terrorist hotbeds across the Middle East and Africa,” the office said in a statement.
Egyptian government officials cited the country’s neighbour Libya, which is riven by fighting among rebels groups, as one of those areas.
Kerry was in Cairo on Saturday to gain support for military action in Syria against the Islamic State group, which the US calls ISIL, and has already gained the backing of 10 Arab nations and Nato allies.
Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, echoed his president.
“We will take all measures that are intended to eliminate this phenomenon altogether, whether in Libya or any other part of the Arab world or in the African continent in particular. Ultimately this extremist ideology is shared by all terrorist groups.
Egyptian security forces have been subject to attacks by fighters based in Libya and from the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
The country says both are inspired by the Islamic State group.
Egypt and the UAE were accused of taking part in a series of air attacks against rebel groups in Libya in August, although both denied involvement.
Egypt’s strong public support for the US campaign against the Islamic State group contrasts with a mixed response elsewhere in the region.
Turkey, which shares a border with both Iraq and Syria, where the group is active, has been reluctant to join.
The US has so far not broadened its campaign to include other groups, but said it would not limit its attacks to one region.
“It will be our goal … to degrade and ultimately to defeat ISIL wherever it exists,” said Kerry.