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Kerry Arrives in Egypt Amid Tight Security

  • VOA News

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets audience members before speaking to a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt in Sharm el-Sheikh, March 13, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets audience members before speaking to a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt in Sharm el-Sheikh, March 13, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Egypt for an economic summit aimed at attracting more foreign investment to the politically troubled country.

The three-day conference is being held amid heavy security in the Sinai Peninsula's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. The region is home to an insurgency that has helped cripple the Egyptian economy.

Sinai-based militants, who claim allegiance to the Islamic State group, have carried out a series of attacks since former President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a popularly backed military coup in 2013.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is trying to demonstrate he can limit the violence and attract foreign investors who have shied away from the country because of the political unrest.

Hundreds of business leaders and officials are attending the much-hyped international conference, including the top diplomats from the U.S. and the European Union and representatives from major companies, including British Petroleum.

During his visit, Kerry will meet with President Sisi, who recently called on Washington to increase its military aid to help combat the Islamic extremists.

The Obama administration last year froze part of the annual $1.5 billion in mostly military assistance to Egypt over concerns at Mr. Sisi's violent suppression of his political opponents. Hundreds have been killed and thousands thrown in prison during the crackdown.

But more recently, U.S. officials have signaled they will continue to work with the Egyptian government, which many see as a key ally in the fight against Islamic extremists, such as the Islamic State group.

On the sidelines of the summit, Kerry will also meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah. That discussion is expected to focus on the future of the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

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