ADDIS ABABA - US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Egypt to act swiftly on economic reforms to secure a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan, saying the measures were needed to get further aid from the US Congress, an American official said.
Kerry met Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for about an hour on the sidelines of an African Union summit on Saturday, discussing Syria's civil war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, human rights in Egypt and the country's faltering economy, the official said.
Egypt's Islamist-led government has been resistant to introducing the austerity measures needed to win the IMF funding, including raising taxes and cutting fuel subsidies, fearing such painful reforms could provoke social unrest.
However, an IMF deal could help shore up investor and donor concerns after two years of political instability since the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. The instability has depressed tourism, a crucial industry for Egypt.
The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kerry had made the argument that the reforms were necessary to persuade American lawmakers to proceed with further economic support for the country, which borders US ally Israel.