Kerry urges 'compromise' in Egypt, pledges $310 mn in aid

CAIRO (AFP) - United States Secretary of State John Kerry told Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Sunday to work harder to bridge the political divide in the country, as he pledged an initial US$250 (S$310) million in US aid for Egypt.

"It is clear that more hard work and compromise will be required to restore unity, political stability and economic health to Egypt," Mr Kerry told Mr Mursi, a statement issued by the top US diplomat said.

Mr Kerry's latest remarks came as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Egypt with a "candid" meeting with Mr Mursi.

Mr Kerry pledged to offer US$250 million as US aid to help in the recovery of Egypt's dilapidated economy.

"Today I advised him the United States will now provide the first US$190 million of our pledged US$450 million in budget support funds," Mr Kerry said, adding Washington also pledged an additional US$60 million for a joint-enterprise fund.

The aid was pledged after "Mursi's assurance that he plans to complete the IMF process," the statement said, referring to a US$4.8 billion loan Egypt is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund.

Egypt's Finance Minister Al-Morsi al-Sayyed Hegazi said earlier on Sunday he expected his government to reach an agreement with the IMF before parliamentary elections in April.

The loan would help restore investor and foreign lenders' confidence in Egypt, which has suffered a sharp economic decline since the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

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