CAIRO, March 2 (UPI) -- John Kerry, on his first visit to Cairo as U.S. secretary of state, told reporters Saturday the Egyptian people must choose their own government.
Kerry left Washington last Sunday on a whirlwind nine-day tour of European and Middle Eastern countries. He held a news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr.
"I've tried to make it clear, and I make it particularly clear now on behalf of President Obama and the American people that we come here as friends for the Egyptian people, not for one government or one person or one party or ideology, but for the Egyptian people," he said.
But Kerry also suggested Egyptians need unity. The country in recent weeks has been hit by demonstrations and riots fueled by anger towards President Mohamed Morsi and the Freedom and Justice Party, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"We do believe that in this moment of serious economic challenge that it's important for the Egyptian people to come together around the economic choices and to find some common ground in making those choices," Kerry said.
Some opposition leaders, including Mohammed El-Baradei, head of the National Salvation Front, refused to meet with Kerry.