New US Secretary of State Kerry to visit Egypt

Newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit Egypt in early March as part of stops to nine countries in Europe and the Middle East on his first official international tour.

Kerry will travel from 24 February to 6 March, visiting the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, in that order, department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a Tuesday press briefing. 

The trip is considered "more broadly as a listening tour," Nuland said.

US President Barack Obama chose the former Massachusetts senator to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who served during Obama's first term.

Kerry's planned visit to Egypt comes amid the political and economic crisis facing President Mohamed Morsy and his government.

The statement added that Kerry will meet in Cairo with "senior Egyptian officials, other political leaders, civil society leaders, and the business community to encourage greater political consensus and moving forward on economic reforms."

Kerry is set to meet also with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby to "consult on our many shared challenges across the region," the statement said.

The trip does not include Israel or the Palestinian territories and Nuland said, "Given the fact that the government coalition negotiations in Israel are still underway, the secretary will be traveling there with the president when he visits later in the spring in lieu of making his own separate trip in February to Jerusalem and Ramallah."

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