CAIRO — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says bickering Egyptian government and opposition leaders need to reach a political consensus to help their country emerge from an economic crisis.
Kerry arrived in Cairo on Saturday for meetings with business people, opposition figures and the foreign minister. Talks with President Mohammed Morsi qre set for Sunday.
U.S. officials accompanying Kerry on his first overseas trip as a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet said Kerry was particularly concerned that Egypt undertake the reforms necessary to qualify for a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan package. Steps could include increasing tax collections and curbing energy subsidies.
Agreement with the IMF, contingent on ending the political chaos that has ensued since Morsi’s election, would unlock significant U.S. assistance, including portions of Obama’s $1 billion pledge last April.
Kerry planned to press all sides to come to a basic agreement on Egypt’s direction ahead of parliamentary elections that begin next month.
Liberal and secular Egyptians have complained that Washington is siding with Morsi’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood.