US Diplomat's Visit Comes as Egypt has Launched Major Counter-terrorism Operation

The United States's work on a new Middle East peace plan is "fairly well advanced", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday, though he provided no details on an initiative which comes amid deep Palestinian scepticism about USA intentions.

At the same time, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was ready to answer a United States call for it to expand its small training mission in Iraq to support reconstruction.

During a visit to Jordan on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an aid package that included a 27 percent increase in aid compared to previous packages.

Mr Tillerson meanwhile said the proposal was "fairly well advanced" but would not comment on when the administration might put it forward.

"Without continued attention and support from coalition members, we risk the return of extremist groups like ISIS liberated areas of Iraq and Syria and their spread to new locations".

ISIS is an acronym for the militant Islamic State group.

In Ankara, Tillerson will press Turkey to release Americans detained by Ankara, and urge the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally to show restraint in military operations in northern Syria, according to senior US officials.

"If communities in Iraq and Syria can not return to normal life, we risk the return of conditions that allowed ISIS to take root", Tillerson said Tuesday.

The US is not expected to make a direct governmental contribution at the conference, however. "We're not going to be taken advantage of any longer".

Jordan has secured a promise of five more years of U.S. financial aid, to the tune of at least $1.275 billion per year, according to the American embassy in Jordan, following a visit Wednesday by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"These are some of our closest partners", a senior State Department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity to preview the trip.

Jordan hosts more than 2-million Palestinian refugees, most of whom get help from the UN Relief and Works Agency.

"We have different views on Jerusalem but we share a commitment to peace", Mr Al Safadi said.

"We don't bypass ISIS", Mattis said.

Tillerson, for his part, voiced Washington's appreciation for the Jordanian role in helping to stabilize the region and taking in numerous Syrian refugees.

The welter of self-interested military activity shows that, for Syria's neighbors and benefactors, the US -led mission against ISIS a secondary concern. "In places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa, and others, it is trying to carve out and secure safe havens", he said.

Iraq was shattered following the 2003 US invasion and the resulting occupation and civil war.

  • Rogelio Becker