updated 11/3/2013 7:18:02 AM ET 2013-11-03T12:18:02

CAIRO (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that there are indications Egypt's generals intend to restore democracy, after an army takeover that prompted Washington to freeze some aid to its long-standing ally.

Kerry, the most senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July, said Cairo was a vital partner, apparently trying to repair ties strained by the partial freeze in U.S. aid, pending progress on democracy.

"Thus far there are indications that this is what they are intending to do," Kerry said after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, referring to his recent remarks in Pakistan that Egypt's military was "restoring democracy".

The U.S. secretary of state, who arrived the day before Mursi and 14 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders are due to appear in court on charges of inciting violence, stressed the need for fair and transparent trials for all Egyptians.

His Cairo visit is the first stop in a nine-day trip to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa.

Ties between the United States and Egypt have deteriorated since the overthrow of Mursi. Washington has repeatedly urged the interim government to act with restraint in cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters.

Kerry's tour will include visits to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco. It appears at least in part aimed at easing concerns about Washington's positive reaction to overtures from Iran and its position on the war in Syria.

In Riyadh, Kerry will have his first meeting with Saudi King Abdullah since becoming Secretary of State in February.

(Interactive look at Egypt in crisis; Editing by Yara Bayoumy, Michael Georgy and David Stamp)

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