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Kerry In Egypt For First Time Since Morsi's Ouster

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Egypt this morning, marking the highest level visit by a U.S. diplomat since the military ousted President Hosni Mubarak in July.

The visit also comes at a time when relations between the two countries are frayed. Reporting from Cairo, NPR's Leila Fadel sent this report to our Newscast unit:

"Kerry vowed that the United States is committed to working with the military-backed government, despite a suspension of a sizable amount of U.S. aid to Egypt. Kerry spoke to reporters alongside Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.

"'It's not a punishment; it's a reflection of the policy in the United States under our law,' Kerry said.

"Many Egyptians are angry with the U.S. for its perceived support of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. U.S. law bars aid to Egypt in the event of a military overthrow, but the administration has yet to call Morsi's ouster a coup.

"Since Morsi's overthrow on July 3, there has been a wide crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies as the interim government moves ahead on a roadmap that would lead to elections in 2014. The U.S. is holding back some aid until there is progress on human rights and democracy.

"Kerry came with a message from President Obama, that the U.S. supports the Egyptian people and that the relationship is not built on aid alone. 'We are committed to work and we will continue our cooperation with the interim government,' Kerry said.

"But he acknowledged turbulent times for Egypt and U.S. relations and urged for inclusive and fair elections."

Kerry's visit also comes a day before Morsi is set to go on trial. The New York Times quotes an unnamed State Department official saying that is purely coincidental, but that Kerry would ask Egypt's military to afford every Egyptian "due process, transparency and open trials."

The Times reports that Kerry will also travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Poland, Algeria and Morocco.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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