Kerry: Divided Egypt needs political compromise

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Associated Press

Posted on March 2, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 2 at 11:34 PM

CAIRO (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry says Egypt's bickering government and opposition need to overcome their differences to create "a sense of political and economic viability" if the country is to thrive as a democracy. And he's urging both sides to compromise for the good of the country.

In meetings Saturday with Egypt's foreign minister and opposition politicians, some of whom plan to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections, Kerry said an agreement on economic reforms to seal a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan package was critical. Closing the IMF deal also will unlock significant U.S. assistance promised by President Barack Obama last year.

Kerry also told business leaders Saturday that the U.S. is not picking sides in Egypt, and he appealed to all sides to come together around human rights, freedom and speech and religious tolerance. Equally essential, he said, is uniting to undertake the reforms necessary to qualify for the IMF package. Those include increasing tax collections and curbing energy subsidies.

Kerry, who's in Cairo on the sixth leg of a nine-nation trip to Europe and the Middle East, meets with President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday.

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