Kerry says he may travel to Egypt in coming weeks

WASHINGTON: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he may visit Egypt in the coming weeks in what would be his first trip since the army toppled the country’s democratically elected president on July 3.

Ties between Washington and Cairo have deteriorated since the ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi, who was elected last year after the toppling of authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally, in February 2011.

In one sign of the strains, the United States on Oct. 9 said it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as $260 million in cash aid
pending Egypt’s progress on democracy and human rights.

The military’s removal of Mursi has presented U.S. President Barack Obama with a dilemma.

On the one hand, he wants to maintain ties with a country of strategic importance because of its peace treaty with Israel, its control of the Suez Canal and its status as the Arab world’s
most populous nation.

On the other, he is reluctant to be seen as acquiescing in the ouster of a popularly elected leader, albeit an Islamist who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood movement and whom the U.S. government had come to view as ineffective.