Kerry urges Egypt for political consensus to resolve economic crisis

2013-03-03 02:29:03 GMT2013-03-03 10:29:03(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is currently on a two-day visit to Egypt, urged Saturday evening the Egyptian political leaders to reach consensus as an important step for resolving the country's economic crisis.

"There must be a willingness on all sides to make meaningful compromises on the issues that matter most to the Egyptian people," Kerry told reporters after initial talks with Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr in Cairo.

"We do believe that in this moment of economic challenge that it is important for the Egyptian people to come together around the economic choices and to find some common ground in making those choices."

"It is paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy gets stronger, that it gets back on its feet," Kerry said, adding that "it is clear to us that the IMF arrangement needs to be reached. So we need to give the marketplace the confidence."

Kerry stressed that Egypt's serious economic challenge requires all Egyptians to unite around economic choices and to find some compromises and common ground to resolve ongoing issues.

He added that it is urgent that the Egyptian economy gets stronger and people have jobs and opportunities, and the energy of this country focuses on its future.

Kerry conveyed U.S. President Barack Obama's support to Egypt and that the U.S. would like to enhance the country through "economic assistance, support for private businesses and growing Egyptian exports to us."

"I emphasize again, as strongly as I can, we're not here to interfere, I'm here to listen," Kerry said.

Outside the foreign ministry, dozens of protesters burned pictures of Kerry as they chanted against perceived US support for Morsi, official news agency MENA reported.

They raised banners in English and Arabic condemning U.S. policies, describing Kerry's visit as "coalition between the United States and Muslim Brotherhood."

Earlier, Kerry advised the opposition not to boycott the coming parliamentary elections during his meeting with 10 Egyptian political figures, Ghad al-Thawra Party leader Ayman Nour said Saturday.

For his part, former lawmaker Mohamed Abu Hamed said most of the participants in the meeting voiced the necessity to boycott the coming elections "as the regime lost its legitimacy".

"Such participation in the elections means supporting a regime responsible for violating the law and the constitution," Abu Hamed argued.

Kerry asserted in his meeting with Amr Moussa, leader of the opposition Conference Party and leading member of the opposition bloc the National Salvation Front (NSF), the importance of stability and the unity of the Egyptian people to pave the way for economic development.

The Conference Party spokesman Ahmed Kamel, however, told Xinhua that Moussa only raised to Kerry his concerns about Egypt's deteriorating economy and that he looked forward to more U.S. support in this regard.

"Kerry agreed with Moussa and stressed the importance of political stability in Egypt as a prior step to economic recovery," Kamel said.

When asked whether Moussa raised the opposition disagreements with the Egyptian government to Kerry, Kamel told Xinhua "we do not accept foreign interference in our Egyptian domestic affairs."

Other NSF leaders including Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabahy refused to meet with Kerry in protest against Washington's attempt to press the Egyptian opposition to give up their decision of boycotting the parliamentary elections.

"Egyptian groups that I talked to, opposition and different political personalities and the nongovernmental organizations, all of them together are vitally important for the health and strength of a democratic system," Kerry said.

He pointed out that he came to Egypt on behalf of President Obama without adopting any commitment to certain political parties or individuals, but adopting a U.S. commitment to support democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and tolerance in Egypt.

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