New Delhi, Feb 13: United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said we stood by Egypt in its fight against terrorism but stressed on free and fair elections in Arab country.

Tillerson who is on Middle East tour, made this statement while addressing a joint news conference with his Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Mr. Tillerson arrival in Egypt is a regional tour amid heightened tensions between Israel and Syria after an Israeli F-16 aircraft was shot down. It also follows a major security operation by the Egyptian military to crush Islamist militants, who have killed hundreds of people since 2013.

The United States has become more embroiled, diplomatically and militarily, in regional conflicts since President Donald Trump took office more than a year ago.

It stepped up support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria before its NATO ally Turkey began a military operation against them last month, and has sided firmly with Israel in recognising Jerusalem as its capital, angering Palestinians and drawing rebukes from Arab leaders.

The United States has also forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states while taking a tougher line against Iran since Trump took office.

Tillerson said that we agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures.

Military operation:

Sisi is running against a single competitor in the March 26-28 poll after more challenging opponents pulled out, some citing intimidation of supporters and other tactics designed to give the incumbent an easy win.

Sisi, a former military chief, gave the armed forces three months to clear Sinai of militants after more than 300 people were killed by gunmen at a mosque in Sinai in November. The Egyptian army said at least 28 suspected militants have died in clashes since the operation began on Friday.

Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually from the United States. Last year, Washington withdrew some financial aid to Egypt saying it had failed to make progress on respecting human rights and democracy.