United States Secretary of State John Kerry met with Minister of Defence Minister Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi on Sunday morning and met with President Mohamed Morsi and Egypt’s intelligence chief General Mohamed Rafaat Shehata later in the day.
Morsi and Kerry discussed the current political and economic crises in Egypt. A senior state department official, speaking before Kerry’s arrival, said that his message would stress “the importance of outreach, the importance of building consensus, the importance of rolling out the various elements, for example, of the constitution and of the election process that will get underway here pretty soon”.
Kerry arrived in Cairo on Saturday and met a number of opposition figures and business leaders on Saturday.
According to the state department official, Kerry began by meeting a number of opposition figures, most of whom are associated with the National Salvation Front (NSF). He met with Amr Moussa, and he also conducted a telephone conversation with Mohamed ElBaradei, which was confirmed by the NSF leader’s press office. No details of their conversation were available and no reason was given as to why they did not meet in person.
He also met with Gameela Ismail, another leading figure in the NSF and member of Al-Dostour party, in a personal capacity. Ismail stressed that she was not representing her party, adding that party head ElBaradei “should have been invited properly, which did not happen”.
“Egypt does not need aid from America,” Ismail said. She believes Egypt needs to establish a relationship with the US on new foundations. “Our country is not a testing ground… You supported a parliamentary system in the past and now you support a semi-religious system in order that every system in Egypt plays the role required of it,” she continued. She accused the US of “supporting [Hosni] Mubarak to his last breath,” and criticised the way in which the US describes Egypt’s revolution as an “uprising”.
“Tomorrow [Sunday] you will meet with the head of the regime that is killing us in the streets and the squares,” Ismail said, criticising Kerry’s plans to meet with Morsi. She accused the US of providing “support for a system that represses, tyrannises, tortures, detains and punishes the revolutionaries”. She said that in supporting the current regime, the US is contributing to the establishment of a state under the guardianship of Islamic jurists like Iran.
At the end of her speech Ismail requested the US to do “nothing” and asked the global power to “leave us to complete our revolution and achieve our dreams that will not stop at your humble perceptions of us and our future”.
Having met with opposition figures Kerry said that he did not believe that some of them will reverse their decision to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections. “They’re deeply committed to human rights, to democracy, to freedom of expression, and to a real political process in which they feel they have a voice. America supports all of those things,” Kerry said.
Kerry also held a roundtable discussion with Egyptian business leaders. “It is paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy get stronger, that it get back on its feet,” Kerry said in a speech before the discussion. He added that for investment to happen in Egypt there needs to be “a sense of economic and political viability”. He emphasised that the Egypt’s energy needs to “move from the streets to enterprise and work and to daily life and to building the strength of that civil society”. He also stressed his view that Egypt must reach an agreement on the pending International Monetary Fund loan.
Kerry also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr on Saturday evening. The pair discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, including the Palestinian cause and the Syrian crisis. He stressed on his official Facebook page that “relations between Egypt and the US are based on equality, mutual respect and common interests”. Kerry also met with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil El-Araby.