Tillerson is traveling through Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait over the next five days, where he already planned to focus his discussions on the ongoing crisis in Syria.
The chief USA diplomat is meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to discuss other regional security issues such as Libya and Syria, as well as Israeli-Palestinian issues. The U.S. officials said Tillerson will repeat warnings for Turkey to show restraint in military operations in Kurdish areas of Syria.
Tillerson is then set to head to Turkey for discussions with Washington's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally including on the conflict in Syria.
The top US diplomat's visit to Ankara comes amid escalated tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over a series of disagreements, including human rights cases and the Syria crisis. "The Turks are angry, and this is a hard time to do business but it's our belief that there are still some very fundamental underlying shared interests". The U.S. Department of State is deeply concerned by the February 8th conviction without credible evidence of U.S. citizen Serkan Golge for being a member of a terror organization, Department's spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press briefing, Armenpress reports. On February 1, Amnesty International's Turkey chairman, Taner Kilic, was re-arrested and placed back in pretrial detention.
"These are some of our closest partners but they are also partners with whom we are facing some of the toughest issues that we have to face in the region, whether its terrorism, whether it's the future of USA assistance, whether it's the final defeat of ISIS (the Islamic State militant group)".
Tillerson finishes the trip in Ankara with surely tense talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen has denied any role in the plot. And tempers have flared over the situation in Syria, where the United States supports Kurdish fighters that Turkey considers to be terrorists.
"We are urging them to show restraint in their operations in Afrin and to show restraint further along the line across the (border) in northern Syria", a USA official told reporters in a conference call.
"Concerns about human rights and civil society are a topic of continuing conversation with the Egyptians", the official added, expecting the topic to be addressed during talks.
He will also discuss the status of forces in northern Syria with Turkish leadership; continue discussions with senior Egyptian officials on the Middle East peace process; attend a conference on the reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait City; and make a rare stop in Beirut - the first such visit there by a U.S. secretary of state since 2014.
The top envoy will also go to Lebanon to meet President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri in Beirut.
In Kuwait on Tuesday, Tillerson will attend a conference focusing on how to reconstruct a devastated Iraq in the years and decades ahead, relying largely on private-sector companies and global financial organisations.