Kerry urges Egypt to take difficult economic steps; opposition figures skip meetings
By Anne Gearan, Updated: Saturday, March 2, 2:27 PM
CAIRO — Well-known political opposition figures stayed away from meetings with visiting Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Saturday, some for fear of appearing too close to the United States in the still-unsettled politics of Egypt two years after the fall of a U.S.-backed dictator.
Kerry encouraged Egypt’s Islamist-led government to take politically difficult economic steps that are crucial to securing international loans and outside investment. President Mohamed Morsi, whom Kerry will see Sunday, has been unable to marshal support for such economic measures. His opponents accuse him of reneging on pledges of political and religious openness.
Meanwhile, some $450 million in U.S. aid to Egypt has been frozen in Congress and the International Monetary Fund has held off on loans and debt relief worth more than $4 billion. Egypt has been the most important Arab ally of the United States for decades, with ties built largely on Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.