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Secretary of State John Kerry and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy held a joint news conference in Cairo. Before Kerry’s arrival, Fahmy spoke openly of Egypt’s intention to court other allies.

Jason Reed • Associated Press,

Kerry tries to smooth over rifts with Egypt on eve of Morsi's trial

  • Article by: Laura King
  • Los Angeles Times
  • November 3, 2013 - 9:22 PM

 

– U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a brief visit to Egypt on Sunday that was meant to smooth over recent rifts, but laid bare the two countries’ differences over authoritarian practices of the military-backed government that supplanted the country’s first democratically elected leader.

Kerry’s stopover, at the start of a nine-day trip, was the highest-level American visit since the July 3 coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi, and a bloody dispersal of his followers in the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-August that left about 1,000 dead. The Obama administration angered Egyptian officials with criticism of the crackdown, and anti-American sentiment here has since been running high.

Kerry arrived at a particularly fraught moment: the eve of Morsi’s trial. The State Department stressed that the timing of the visit had ­nothing to do with the legal proceedings against the former president, but Egypt’s official press has been full of speculation that Kerry’s aim in visiting was to somehow derail the trial, which opens Monday.

The visit was not announced in advance by the State Department, a level of secrecy normally employed when senior officials visit such war-zone destinations as Kabul, Afghanistan, or Baghdad. Security was unusually tight, with sensitive sites locked down in advance of the trial.

Even while Kerry was on the ground, Egyptian state media crowed that his presence showed that the United States had accepted the “irreversibility” of Morsi’s removal. Kerry did not allude to that; instead, he repeated U.S. calls for Egyptian officials to move toward the restoration of ­democratic rule and respect “fundamental freedoms” in the meantime.

“We support you in this tremendous transition you are undergoing,” Kerry said, addressing the Egyptian people directly at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.

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