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Nov 3, 2013 4:21 PM by Associated Press

Kerry, in Cairo, seeks to soothe US-Egypt strains

CAIRO (AP) - Secretary of State John Kerry says the suspension of U.S. aid to Egypt is "not a punishment."

At a news conference in Cairo, Kerry held out the prospect that aid could resume as Egypt makes progress in restoring civilian democratic rule and protecting human rights. The U.S. withheld more than $1 billion in assistance to Egypt after the military toppled the democratically elected government and cracked down on its supporters.

Standing alongside the Egyptian foreign minister, Kerry acknowledged that Egypt has faced "difficult challenges" and "turbulent years." He urged Egyptians to continue their "march to democracy."

Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Egypt since the July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. He made the unannounced stop in Cairo at the start of a 10-day tour of the Middle East, Europe and North Africa.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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