Kerry arrives in Egypt on first official visit since El-Sisi's inauguration

Ahram Online, Sunday 22 Jun 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry is planned to congratulate El-Sisi and discuss bilateral relations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry disembarks upon his arrival at Cairo International Airport, in Cairo June 22, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Egypt Sunday morning on his first official visit since the election of the country's new President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Kerry is scheduled to meet El-Sisi and newly appointed Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, among others, to discuss bilateral relations as well as congratulate the new president on his post.

Two of Kerry's aides arrived in Cairo on Saturday to prepare for the visit.

US-Egyptian relations became unsteady following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July of last year and the outspoken criticism of Egypt's interim authorities by American officials.

Washington said in April it would resume part of its $1.5 billion annual aid to Cairo, much of which was held back late last year pending Cairo's progress in democracy and human rights. The resumption includes 10 Apache attack helicopters for counterterrorism operations in the border Sinai Peninsula. The aircrafts have yet to be delivered.

An additional $650 million promised to the military has been blocked by US lawmakers who said -- against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign against Morsi's Islamist supporters -- they would wait for evidence of Egypt's commitment to democratic rule.

The US sent a low-profile delegation to attend El-Sisi's swearing-in ceremony on 8 June, and Obama telephoned El-Sisi two days later to congratulate him on his election.

Kerry last visited Egypt on 3 November.

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