US Secretary of State John Kerry says Egypt is an "important partner" in the emerging coalition aimed at beating back the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. However, it seems Egypt is not completly on board.
During a visit to Cairo on Saturday, Kerry said that "as an intellectual and cultural capital to the Muslim world," Egypt has a "critical role" to play in denouncing the extremist group's harsh ideology. Egypt is home to Al-Azhar University, one of the oldest and most revered centers of religious learning for Sunni Muslims.
Kerry spoke after meeting with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. Egypt, for its part, seems unlikely to send troops to battle the Islamic State group but could in theory provide logistical and intelligence support.
Egypt's foreign minister also commented on the Islamic State Saturday and said ties existed between the group and other militants in the region and that global action was needed to counter the threat.
Sameh Shukri, speaking at a Cairo news conference with Kerry, said regional militant groups shared the same ideology and must be dealt with.
Egypt's call for international action could bolster Kerry's bid to gather support for President Barack Obama's plan to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier to defeat Islamic State Sunni fighters.
"Ultimately this extremist ideology is shared by all terrorist groups. We detect ties of cooperation between them and see a danger as it crosses borders," said Shukri.
"We believe that rejecting terrorism is a collective responsibility of all members of the international community. There should be definite steps to achieve this target."
Kerry won backing on Thursday for a "coordinated military campaign" against Islamic State from 10 Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
But it is unclear what role individual nations will play.
The United States wants Egypt to use its leading Islamic authority Al-Azhar, a thousand-year-old seat of religious learning, to send a message of moderation across the Middle East to counter Islamic State's extremist ideology.
Kerry's message in Cairo comes two days after he urged Gulf Arab foreign ministers to suppress all financing of Islamic State, including private money in countries such as Qatar and Kuwait where US officials say enforcement has been weak.
The United States called on each country to work with clerics to convey a message that Islamic State's ideas are contrary to Islam, and to use their influence on regional television stations to broadcast anti-extremist programming.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report