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Kerry, State Department hint at Egypt trip

US State Department, top diplomat signal plans of upcoming visit to Cairo in next weeks to address security and strategic interests

AFP, Tuesday 29 Oct 2013
Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry (Photo: Reuters)
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US Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department on Monday dropped hints that a trip to Egypt could be in the cards in coming weeks.

The visit, if it takes place, would be a first to Egypt by Kerry since the country's president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military on July 3 amid massive protests against his year-long rule, straining bilateral ties.
Morsi, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood was Egypt's first freely elected leader.

"I think we may be going to Cairo sometime in the next weeks. And one of the meetings that I insisted on having was that we make sure we meet with a cross-section of civil society," Kerry said on the record at a closed press event in front of staff.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was less direct, alluding to a possible stop in Egypt on an upcoming swing through the region.

"It's no secret that, clearly, we've gone through ups and downs in our relationship," Psaki admitted. "But our focus is on our long-term security and strategic interests and that's what we keep our eye on."

The United States on October 10 "recalibrated" its aid $1.5 billion a year including 1.3 billion in military aid -- after the bloody repression against Morsi supporters on the heels of his ouster.

More than 1,000 people -- mainly Morsi supporters -- have been killed since his ouster -- and authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership.

Morsi meanwhile has been held incommunicado in military custody since his ouster.

The arrests have not deterred Morsi's supporters from organizing demonstrations, which have deteriorated into deadly street fights pitting them against opponents and security forces.

Islamist militants have meanwhile attacked Coptic Christians and security forces, mainly in Upper Egypt and the increasingly volatile Sinai Peninsula.

Morsi's opponents accused him of poor governance and charged the Muslim Brotherhood with trying to monopolize power following the 2011 overthrow of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.

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