Mar. 2 - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with members of the Arab League, and representatives of opposition parties in Cairo. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will stress the importance Egypt achieves political consensus for painful economic reforms needed to secure an IMF loan, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday. Kerry arrived in Egypt on his first visit to the Arab world since taking office for talks with the leaders of a country mired in political and economic crisis two years after the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. One of his meetings was with Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby. During his visit to Egypt, Kerry was expected to stress the need for agreement across the political spectrum on reforms and winning approval in the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament. Hopes for consensus between the ruling Islamists and opposition parties seem slim. Liberal and leftist opposition parties have announced a boycott of parliamentary elections, scheduled for April to June, over a new constitution produced by an Islamist-dominated assembly and other grievances. Kerry met opposition leaders on Saturday but many senior figures were not on the list of expected participants, including Hamdeen Sabahy, who came a close third in presidential elections last year and former U.N. nuclear agency head Mohamed ElBaradei. Kerry does not wish to be seen as lecturing Egyptians and will not explicitly tell opposition parties to renounce their boycott of the lower house polls, the U.S. official said. However, he will make the case for them to take part.