US Embassy Shuts, Concerns Over Protesting Against Kerry’s Visit

 The US embassy in Cairo announced that it will close the consular sector in the embassy tomorrow; avoiding any protests that coincide with the visit of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

 It is worth mentioning that Kerry is paying his first overseas trip as a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. He was scheduled to meet Saturday with a number of opposition figures along with Egypt’s foreign minister. He will see President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday.

U.S. officials said Kerry was particularly concerned that Egypt takes the reforms necessary to qualify for a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan package.

 One official said it was extremely important for the new Egypt for there to be a firm economic foundation and that requires reaching agreement with the IMF. To get that Egypt must make reforms, like increasing tax collections and curbing energy subsidies.

 Agreement with the IMF would also unlock significant U.S. assistance, including portions of the $1 billion that Obama pledged last April.

But getting the IMF deal will also be contingent on an end to the political chaos that has wracked the country since Morsi’s election.

Kerry will press for all political players to come to a basic agreement on the country’s direction ahead of parliamentary elections that begin in April, the official said.

Liberal and secular Egyptians have complained that Washington is siding with Morsi’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood. The main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has said it would boycott the upcoming elections.

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