Kerry says U.S. will continue working with Egypt’s government

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is committed to working with the Egyptian government on his first visit since the ouster of Mohammad Mursi by the military on July 3.

“We are committed to work and we will continue our cooperation with the interim government,” Kerry told reporters at a news conference, saying Egypt was a “vital” partner.

He also said he wanted to express to the Egyptian people “as clearly and as forcefully as I can in no uncertain terms, that the United States is a friend of the people of Egypt, of the country of Egypt, and we are a partner.”

Kerry also said that he discussed with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy the need for an end to the country’s violence and fair and transparent trials for all Egyptians.

Kerry’s visit comes a day before Mursi is due to stand trial on charges of inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.

Ties between Washington and strategic ally Cairo have deteriorated since Mursi’s overthrow by the military. On Oct. 9, the United States froze part of its $1.5 billion annual aid pending progress on democracy and human rights, following the crackdown on Mursi supporters in which more than 1,000 have died.

Kerry has also said that the suspension of aid to Egypt is not a punishment.

“U.S.-Egyptian relations should not be defined by assistance,” he said, adding that the United States will continue providing assistance to Egypt to fight terrorism.

Kerry is due to meet Interim President Adly Mansour and military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He will also meet behind closed doors with members of Egyptian civil society during his brief six-hour visit.

Egypt is Kerry’s first stop on a regional tour to reinforce ties with Arab countries. He will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.

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