By Jill Dougherty, reporting from Cairo
Calling it a "good-faith effort" to help the Egyptian people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released $250 million in economic aid Sunday, with a pledge of more if President Mohamed Morsy implements economic and political reforms.
Kerry's announcement came after a series of weekend meetings in Cairo with a cross-section of Egyptians and a two-hour session with Morsy on Sunday.
"When Egypt takes the difficult steps to strengthen its economy and build political unity and justice, we will work with our Congress at home on additional support," Kerry said in a written statement on the talks. But right now, Kerry said, Egypt needs help.
"In light of Egypt's extreme needs" and assurances by Morsy that he will take the steps necessary to obtain a major loan package from the International Monetary Fund, Kerry said the United States would provide the first $190 million of $450 million in already-promised support funds to the Egyptian government budget.
By CNN's Jill Dougherty
At a roundtable with business leaders in Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry said it is "paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy get stronger, that it get back on its feet."
Sidestepping political divisions that are holding back reform, Kerry said he was not supporting any party or any political view.
He said that in order for the economy to revive, there needs to be a sense of security and "an IMF agreement needs to be reached," he told the business leaders.
Sunday, when he meets with Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy, Kerry said he will speak about "very specific ways" in which President Obama wants to engage, including economic assistance, support for private business, increasing Egyptian exports to the U.S. and investing in Egypt's people through education.
He said he has spoken with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Germany and Turkey and all want to be helpful "but all of them believe Egypt must make some fundamental economic choices."
By Jamie Crawford
As the political turmoil in Egypt continues, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she's concerned about an Egyptian military official's assertion that the current situation could lead to the collapse of the Egyptian state.
"I think that would lead to incredible chaos and violence on a scale that would be devastating for Egypt and the region," Clinton said in a CNN interview Tuesday at the State Department. "There has to be some understanding by the new government that the aspirations that the people were expressing during the revolution in Egypt have to be taken seriously. And it - it cannot in any way be overlooked that there is a large number of Egyptians who are not satisfied with the direction of the economy and the political reform."
Thousands of anti-government protesters have clashed with police and troops in three Egyptian cities, and defied President Mohamed Morsy's curfew orders. Demonstrators are upset with recent political moves by Morsy, and charge that the country's first democratically elected president is a throwback to former dictatorships.
Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's defense minister, warned Tuesday that continued instability could have grave consequences.
By Jamie Crawford
President Barack Obama offered a more cautious and nuanced take than in recent memory of the United States and Egyptian relationship following an assault on the American embassy in Cairo this week.
"I don't think that we consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said Wednesday in an interview with the Spanish language network Telemundo. "They are a new government that is trying to find its way," he said. "They were democratically elected."
Obama's comments were taken as a possible change in posture toward a country that has enjoyed billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic assistance since the signing of a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 – the linchpin of security in the volatile region.
"I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident," Obama went on to say in the interview. "I think it's still a work in progress. But certainly in this situation, what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our assistance that our embassy is protected, that our personnel are protected."
By Jill Dougherty
More than 100 senior executives from dozens of U.S. companies, representing finance, energy, technology and other firms, will travel to Egypt on Saturday as part of the largest-ever trade delegation to the region.
Organized by the Chamber of Commerce through its U.S.-Egypt Business Council, the mission's primary aim is to promote private-sector development and to scout for opportunities and partnerships.
But the delegation will also express U.S. business confidence in Egypt and demonstrate a commitment to the country's long-term economic development.
It will be led by Lionel Johnson, the chamber's vice president of Turkey, Middle East, and North Africa affairs, and Steve Farris, chief executive of Apache Corporation, a private Fortune 200 company with more than $10 billion in investments in Egypt.
By Jennifer Rizzo
The new second in command of the Egyptian military called for a withdrawal of American forces from the Middle East in a research paper he wrote while attending the U.S. Army War College in 2005.
The paper offers a glimpse into the thinking of Lt. Gen. Sedky Sobhy, who is the newly appointed chief of staff of the armed forces as part of shakeup of the military's top echelon.
"I recommend that the permanent withdrawal of the United States military forces from the Middle East and the (Persian) Gulf should be a goal of the U.S. strategy in this region," he wrote in the paper reviewed by CNN.
Sobhy criticized the United States for playing favorites by taking Israel's side on issues. He wrote that the U.S. alliance with Israel did not sit well in the region.
"Nothing defines better the ideological struggle that the United States has to overcome in the Middle East than the hostility and negative perceptions that exist in the region because of the U.S. unique and one-sided strategic relationship with Israel," Sobhy wrote.
Sobhy said that security challenges for the United States in the region would be alleviated if it were to "truly work" for a permanent solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
While the comments seem bold, Middle East analysts told CNN's Security Clearance that these views are rather common in the region.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The U.S. secretary of defense arrived in Cairo Tuesday for his first meeting with the first democratically elected president in Egypt's history.
Afterward Leon Panetta had positive words for Mohammed Morsy, who represented the Muslim Brotherhood in the election.
"I was convinced that Morsy is his own man, and he is the president of all of the Egyptian people and that he is truly committed to implementing democratic reforms here in Egypt," Panetta said.
The meeting with Morsy was a top priority for this leg of Panetta's week-long trip to North Africa and the Middle East.
By Elise Labott
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Monday the desert border between Israel and Egypt could become an "operational base" for jihadists if security is not maintained. Israel has raised concerns about the region in the wake of the fall of the Mubarak government.
In an interview with CNN, Clinton said the problem was discussed at length during her meetings in Egypt and Israel.
There is "the potential of jihadists and terrorists taking up an operational base in Sinai," Clinton said in the interview. "We think this is a dangerous situation for both Egypt and Israel. It is also dangerous for Americans. We have Americans who are part of the multinational force that observes the continuation of the monitoring (of the) Camp David Accord. We have Americans in the Sinai. We've had a few concerns about their safety."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Sunday with the head of Egypt's military leadership, a day after she urged the country's first democratically elected president to "assert the full authority" of his office.
Clinton's meeting with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, held out of the view of reporters, came amid a political tug of war between President Mohamed Morsy and the military council that Tantawi heads.
Elise Labott assesses Hillary Clinton's diplomatic mission to Egypt following the secretary of state's meeting with the military.