|Kerry says Egyptian junta is moving toward democracy||
A day before Egypt's deposed Islamist president goes on trial, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed optimism on Sunday about a return to democracy in the country, as he began a tour partly aimed at easing tensions with Arab powers, Reuters reported.
On his first visit to Egypt since the army removed president Mohamed Morsi in July, Kerry called for fair, transparent trials for all citizens. However, he described Cairo as a vital partner, apparently trying to repair relations hurt by a partial freeze in U.S. aid, pending progress on democracy.
According to AP, Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy played down tensions between Washington and Cairo. They pledged to work through the turbulence caused by the military's removal of Morsi and subsequent harsh crackdown on his supporters that led the U.S. to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.
Kerry said the relationship between the United States and Egypt should not be defined by aid but by a political and economic partnership.
When Egypt's first democratically-elected president stands trial on Monday, Kerry will already be on the next stage of his trip in Riyadh, another U.S. proxy in the Middle East that has reportedly provided the military rulers in Egypt with billions of cash since Morsi’s ouster.
Referring to his recent comment that the Egyptian generals were restoring democracy when they deposed Morsi, Kerry said: "Thus far there are indications that this is what they are intending to do."
Fahmy said last month that U.S.-Egyptian relations were in "turmoil" and warned that the strain could affect the entire Middle East.
But on Sunday, he struck a less strident tone. He noted Kerry's positive comments about the "roadmap" to democracy laid out by Egypt's military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and said they indicated that "we are all pursuing a resumption of normal relations."
"I said a few days ago that Egypt-U.S. relations are undergoing a turbulent phase... but what the American secretary of state said to me during the closed session and here about U.S. support for the Egyptian people and the road map are indications that we all pursuing a resumption of normal relations," Fahmy said. "I thank him for that."
In August the army crushed two pro-Morsi protest camps and has arrested thousands of Islamist supporters, including many top Brotherhood leaders.
A court order has also banned the group, Egypt's oldest Islamist movement, and seized its funds. Morsi, who has been held incommunicado since his overthrow, is due to face charges of inciting violence with 14 other senior Brotherhood figures.
Egypt has long been the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, with the military receiving $1.3 billion a year. However, Fahmy told Reuters on Saturday that Egypt would look beyond the United States to meet its security needs.
Washington has also held up the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian air force.
Morsi's family won't attend trial
Meanwhile, a son of Mohammed Morsi said on Sunday the family will not attend his trial, a day before it's scheduled to start in a Cairo court.
Osama Morsi told The Associated Press that his family doesn't recognize the trial's "legitimacy." Morsi "is kidnapped. He is held hostage," he said.
Morsi has been under arrest since the July 3 military coup, which followed protests by millions calling for him to leave office.
Morsi is scheduled to appear Monday to face charges of inciting violence and murder in connection to clashes in front of presidential palace in December.
In recent statements, a coalition led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood described the trial as a "farce" and reiterated that it regarded him as the "elected, legitimate president."
Anti-military comedy show suspended
In another development Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef's television channel suspended his program on Friday, a week after he returned from a four-month break and fired barbs at the country's military, AFP reported.
Youssef, known as "Egypt's Jon Stewart", modeled his Al-Bernameg on the U.S. comedian's popular satirical news program.
On Friday, the CBC channel that airs Youssef's show pulled the plug.
"The channel has decided to suspend Al-Bernameg. The CBC board confirmed that today's episode indicated that the producers and presenter insisted on violating the editorial policy of the channel," the network said in a statement read out by a presenter.
It did not elaborate on how the editorial policy had been violated, but said the show would remain suspended "until the technical and commercial problems are solved."
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