| ADDIS ABABA
ADDIS ABABA May 25 U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry urged Egypt to act swiftly on economic reforms to secure a
$4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan, saying the
measures were needed to get further aid from the U.S. Congress,
an American official said.
Kerry met Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi for about an hour
on the sidelines of an African Union summit on Saturday,
discussing Syria's civil war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
human rights in Egypt and the country's faltering economy, the
Egypt's Islamist-led government has been resistant to
introducing the austerity measures needed to win the IMF
funding, including raising taxes and cutting fuel subsidies,
fearing such painful reforms could provoke social unrest.
However, an IMF deal could help shore up investor and donor
concerns after two years of political instability since the
overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. The
instability has depressed tourism, a crucial industry for Egypt.
The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
Kerry had made the argument that the reforms were necessary to
persuade American lawmakers to proceed with further economic
support for the country, which borders U.S. ally Israel.
"He urged action on making reforms happen now to move
towards requirements to get the IMF package," the official said.
During his first visit to Cairo as secretary of state, on
March 3, Kerry told Mursi the United States would provide the
first $190 million of $450 million in pledged budget support
because of Mursi's commitment to see the IMF process through.
The remainder, however, would depend on the economic
reforms, a point Kerry made again in the Ethiopian capital.
"He said ... we need to be able to show Congress that you
have taken the necessary reforms," said the official. "I have
been a strong advocate of support for Egypt. I continue to
support aid for Egypt, but ... we need to see reforms in place
that will encourage my former colleagues back at home to act."
Kerry served in the U.S. Senate for nearly 30 years before
becoming the country's top diplomat on Feb. 1.
Egypt has in recent years received about $1.3 billion in
military aid from Washington, support that dates back to its
signing of a peace treaty with Israel more than 30 years ago.
That assistance, however, is not seen as contingent on Egyptian