World Bulletin/News Desk
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to stress the importance of Egypt reaching an IMF agreement and achieving political consensus for painful economic reforms, a U.S. official said on Saturday.
Speaking shortly before Kerry arrived in Cairo for a two-day visit, the official said if Egypt could agree on a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, this would bring in other funds from the United States, European Union and Arab countries.
However, the official said Kerry believed Egypt needed to increase tax revenues and reduce energy subsidies, measures that are likely to prove highly unpopular with Egyptians who are struggling during the country's economic crisis.
"His basic message is it's very important to the new Egypt for there to be a firm economic foundation," the official told reporters as Kerry flew to Cairo.
"In order for there to be agreement on doing the kinds of economic reforms that would be required under an IMF deal there has to be a basic political ... agreement among all of the various players in Egypt," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Egypt said on Thursday it would invite a team from the International Monetary Fund to reopen talks the loan - which was agreed in principle last November but put on hold at Cairo's request during street violence the following month - and the Investment Minister Ashraf al-Araby expressed hope that a deal could be done by the end of April.
Egypt's foreign currency reserves have fallen to not much more than a third of their level before the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak as the nation's crisis deepens.
Nevertheless, Kerry will stress the need for agreement on reform across the political spectrum on reforms that are likely to be unpopular and winning approval in the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament.
"What they need to do is ... things like increasing tax revenues, reducing energy subsidies, making clear what the approval process will be to the Shura council for an IMF agreement, that kind of thing," said the official.
Activists decry decision by Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour, one warning could lead to civil unrest
The move was cheered by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and Federation of Free Trade Unions
With overnight temperatures already nudging below freezing in Ukraine, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hailed an accord clinched in Brussels
Xinhua said China has sent 20 teams to Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and other neighbouring countries, arresting 75 suspects.
Supporters say law will return country to energy self-sufficiency; critics say it is too lenient on companies.
The toll is expected to be introduced in 2016. Motorists have to pay it by registering their license plates via the internet. Foreigners can also pay the levy at gas stations
Moscow's Arbitration Court ruled in favour of prosecutors who said Bashneft was unlawfully sold to local authorities in the early 2000s before being sold in 2009 to oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema
Waste oil from Chinese dinner tables to power airplanes by converting into aviation biofuel
The World Bank announced Singapore had been ranked the best country to do business in for a ninth consecutive year
LPG "certainly provides lower carbon dioxide per unit of energy than diesel and petrol when used in vehicles" expert claims
52 countries and regions including Germany, UK and South Africa agree to exchange financial information
OPEC members have previously said they wanted oil at around $100 a barrel
World stocks rose on Wednesday, lifted by strong corporate earnings and investor optimism that the U.S. Federal Reserve won't raise interest rates for some time, even as it is expected to officially wind down its bond-buying stimulus programme
London-based solar plant developer aims to bring solar power generated in Tunisia to Europe as electricity in 2018.
All 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline following Fukushima, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
British PM said the bill made it harder to make the case to keep Britain in the European Union before a membership referendum he has promised in 2017 if he is re-elected next year.