Kerry to defend Iran deal in Mideast tour

Kerry is due in Cairo on Sunday to co-chair the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sets out this weekend on a multi-stop tour of the Middle East and Southeast Asia that will see him energetically defend the nuclear deal with Iran.

The peripatetic diplomat, still on crutches after breaking his femur in May, will travel to Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam on August 2-8, his office said.

He is due in Cairo on Sunday to co-chair the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, amid a tumultuous period between the traditionally close allies.

In late March, the United States lifted its freeze on annual military aid of $1.3 billion to Cairo.

But Washington kept up public condemnation of the brutal repression by President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s regime of supporters of his ousted predecessor, Mohamed Mursi.

“The bilateral dialogue reaffirms the United States’ longstanding and enduring partnership with Egypt,” Kerry’s spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

It will also “provide a forum to discuss a broad range of political, economic, security and cultural issues to address issues of importance to each side and further our common values, goals and interests,” Kirby added.

On August 3, Kerry will be in Doha to meet with his counterparts from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and seek to ease their concerns about the deal world powers clinched with Iran on its nuclear program earlier this month.

The Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia chief among them, are wary of the regional ambitions of Shiite foe Iran.

On the sidelines of the Qatar meeting, Kerry will also hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and is expected to discuss the Syrian war.

The top U.S. diplomat will then head for Southeast Asia.

In Singapore, while the country marks its first half-century of independence, Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

On August 4-6, he will stay in Kuala Lumpur, as Malaysia holds the rotating presidency this year of the regional ASEAN bloc. Kerry will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum, participating in multilateral meetings.

Kerry is then expected August 6-8 in Vietnam, where he fought as a U.S. Navy lieutenant 45 years ago. His visit coincides with the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Hanoi and Washington.

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