Skip to main content

Kerry: U.S. ties with Egypt 'vital'

By CNN Staff
November 3, 2013 -- Updated 1901 GMT (0301 HKT)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, holds a joint press conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in Cairo.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, holds a joint press conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in Cairo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Secretary of State John Kerry visits Egypt a day before Mohamed Morsy's trial starts
  • Kerry's visit is the highest-level U.S. trip to Egypt since the coup that ousted Morsy
  • He pushes for reforms and defends a decision to suspend significant military aid
  • "It's not a punishment," Kerry says

(CNN) -- U.S. ties with Egypt go deeper than aid, America's top diplomat said Sunday.

"Let me make it clear here today: President Obama and the American people support the people of Egypt," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. "We believe this is a vital relationship."

Kerry's visit marked the highest-level U.S. official trip to Egypt since former President Mohamed Morsy's ouster in July. And it came just a day before Morsy is expected to make his first court appearance as he stands trial on charges of inciting violence.

Kerry's trip to Egypt was his first time in the country since the U.S. suspended significant military aid to Egypt over the bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political arm backed Morsy.

After meeting with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Kerry pushed for reforms as he defended the U.S. decision to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance.

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

The move was the culmination of months of debate within the Obama administration about how to respond to the coup that removed Morsy from power.

Egypt FM on struggle for stability
Wider impact of U.S. cutting aid to Egypt

But on Sunday, Kerry described the aid as "a very small issue."

"Our hope is that we can make the progress we need on democracy, the rights of people, the protections of people, the ability of the country to have its civil society strengthened and restored, and then we will march together hand in hand into the future, with Egypt playing the vital role that it has traditionally played in this region," Kerry said.

Kerry stressed that U.S. humanitarian support to Egypt continues, in addition to counterterrorism efforts with the military and work to ensure safety in the Sinai Peninsula. While in Cairo, he hosted a meeting with civil society organizations, including faith-based groups, human rights advocates, and youth and labor organizations, "to discuss how Egypt can continue on its path to political and economic reform," a senior State Department official said.

The aid suspension last month roiled Egyptian officials. Fahmy told CNN's Christiane Amanpour at the time that the decision raised concerns about the U.S.-Egypt relationship.

"This has been a relationship that has a continuity to it, especially on strategic issues like military cooperation. And any disruption in that continuity raises concerns. ... This is a very important relationship to both countries, and we need to work to enhance it, because it serves both sides," he said.

Kerry's visit to Egypt was the first stop on a 10-day trip to the Middle East, Europe and Northern Africa.

He left Cairo on Sunday for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

CNN's Jim Sciutto contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Brazil's oldest foe secures its place in the World Cup final for the first time in more than two decades after defeating the Netherlands on penalties.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
A high speed train leaves Beijing south railway station on August 11, 2011.
How Beijing built the world's largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
CNN's Becky Anderson looks at how practicing underwater is the perfect way to prepare for spacewalks.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0917 GMT (1717 HKT)
An emotional Brazil fan reacts after being defeated by Germany 7-1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Spectacular Germany outplays Brazil to reach the World Cup final with a 7-1 win over the hosts.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0641 GMT (1441 HKT)
CNN's Jim Bittermann takes a look at a family who found the remains of their great- grandfather 100 years later.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Israelis and Palestinians have entered another yet violent cycle of reaction and counterreaction. Here are five things to keep in mind.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Traveling to the U.S.? You could be delayed if your electronic device has a dead battery.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
With one hand, Zahra Hassan clutches a purse that matches her red blouse and skirt trimmed in blue. In the other, she holds an AK-47.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT