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Kerry counsels against violence in Egypt protests

Published: Updated:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday urged all sides in Egypt to ensure that protests this weekend will not be violent and instead bring about “positive change” in the polarized country.

Kerry, who discussed Egypt’s chaotic politics with Saudi leaders during a visit to the regional power, said demonstrations were a “very legitimate” way of expression amid fears that authorities will clamp down.

“It is imperative that those demonstrations be peaceful, that the government will respect them and that people will respect their fellow citizens,” Kerry said in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

“We will obviously hope that it will not produce violence and be a moment of catalyzing positive change in Egypt,” he told a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

Opponents of President Mohommad Mursi are calling for major rallies on Sunday to mark one year since his election, accusing the Islamist leader of betraying the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Kerry said the United States has been encouraging efforts in Egypt to give more space to the opposition and to improve a troubled economy through structural reforms.

“We hope that it will bring the government ultimately to a place where the reforms are effective and the decisions that need to be made about the economy are implemented,” Kerry said of the protests.