John Kerry meets Egyptian counterpart, says Cairo a "vital partner"

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo for talks with Egypt`s Army-backed government, a day before the country`s deposed Islamist president goes on trial.

Cairo: US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo on Sunday and said Egypt was a "vital partner" that Washington was committed to working with.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Kerry said there were indications Egypt`s generals would restore democracy, after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July following mass protests against his rule.

"Thus far there are indications that this is what they are intending to do," Kerry said about his recent remarks in Pakistan that Egypt`s generals were "restoring democracy" when they deposed Mursi.

Kerry, the most senior US official to visit Egypt since the Army overthrew Morsi in July, stressed the need for fair and transparent trials for all Egyptians.

His Cairo visit is the first stop in a nine-day trip to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa. It comes as Mohamed Mursi - Egypt`s first democratically-elected president - and 14 other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood were due to go on trial on Monday.
Kerry will discuss political transition in the country and how that affects bilateral ties with Washington, a senior State Department official said.

However, the US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the visit was "totally and completely unrelated to the Mursi trial".

Ties between the United States and Egypt have deteriorated since the overthrow of Mursi in July. Washington has repeatedly urged the interim government to act with restraint in cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters.

Kerry will stress the importance of following the rule of law in his meetings with Egyptian authorities, the State Department official said. He will call for transparent and open trials for all Egyptians, as well as avoiding politicised arrests, the official added.

Kerry`s tour will include visits to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco. It appears at least in part aimed at easing concerns about Washington`s overtures towards Iran and its position on the crisis in Syria.

In Riyadh, Kerry will have his first meeting with Saudi King Abdullah since becoming Secretary of State in February.