Senator Kerry in Egypt on unannounced visit
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, landed in Cairo on Sunday to meet Egyptian officials on the eve of former president Mohamed Morsi’s trial.
It is the first time a US secretary of state has travelled to Egypt on a visit that is unannounced for security reasons. Mr Kerry intends to press reforms with the Egyptian military.
Kerry said: “The United States believes that the US-Egypt partnership is going to be stronger when Egypt is represented by an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government based on rule of law, fundamental freedoms and an open and competitive economy.”
He added that the US was “committed to work with” the interim government.
The visit came at a time of heightened tensions in the country as former democratically elected President Morsi is due to stand trial with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood officials for the murder of secular protesters demanding the abandonment of a constitution drafted by Morsi’s allies last December.
The confrontation sparked night-long clashes that left at least 10 dead, and began a spiral of political upheaval that led the army to overthrow Morsi this July, following days of mass protests.
The trial is expected to increase Egypt’s political tensions, with Morsi supporters planning a series of nationwide protests and police announcing a state of alert.
“Neither us nor President Morsi acknowledges the legitimacy of this trial,” said Amr Darrag, a cabinet minister during Morsi’s year in office speaking on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice party.
The US froze a large portion of the $1.3bn (£810m) in aid it sends to the military following the overthrow of Morsi’s government.
On Sunday, Mr Kerry insisted that was merely a “reflection of US law” and said assistance that went directly to the Egyptian people had been maintained.
The US has never described Morsi’s overthrow as a coup, prompting criticism from Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
“History has demonstrated that democracies are more stable, viable and prosperous than any alternative,” John Kerry told a news conference. He said the US was committed to working with Egypt’s military-backed rulers.
From Egypt, Kerry planned to travel to Saudi Arabia, Poland, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.