Nightly News   |  March 02, 2013

Kerry hears policy criticism in Egypt

Some critics say the U.S. is not changing its policy in Egypt, choosing to back Islamists instead of democracy and human rights. NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

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>>> overseas secretary of state john kerry ran into political turbulence today in egypt both on the direction that country is taking under its new government and the long and bloody civil war in syria where there is no end in sight. we'll go to cairo tonight for that story. hello.

>> reporter: good evening, lester. it is going to be a very busy 24 hours for secretary of state john kerry but on the heels of announcing a major shift in u.s. policy on syria , some in egypt are criticizing the u.s. for not changing its policy when it comes to egypt . they say the u.s. is backing president morsi and his islamist government at the expense of democracy and human rights . a message for america's top diplomats.

>> john kerry , you have to know that the egyptian people are angry.

>> reporter: instead of pushing for democratic reform , these protesters say washington is supporting egypt 's islamist president morsi just like it once backed former leader hosni mubarak .

>> we are protesting against american interest groups and supporting a fascist regime .

>> reporter: the country's opposition warned kerry president morsi's government is undermining democracy, human rights , and consolidating power.

>> we come here as friends for the egyptian people , not for one government, for one person, or one party or ideology but for the egyptian people .

>> reporter: but egypt is facing a bigger, looming crisis. its economy is collapsing and kerry urged politicians here to put their differences aside and come to an agreement. differences that trigger clashes between police and protesters are now a frequent occurrence here. the government is struggling to maintain law and order let alone push through broader reforms. it's not just egypt though that is dominating kerry 's agenda. he also met with secretary general of the arab league . for the first time in two years the u.s. says it will now give direct, nonlethal aid to rebels fighting to topple president assad. the foreign ministers of iran and syria fired back today saying assad is the country's legitimately elected leader and would not step down from power before election next year. syria 's foreign minister called america's new policy a double standard and asked how the u.s. could give support to groups they claim killed the syrian people while calling for political solution to the conflict. now, tomorrow secretary of state john kerry will meet egypt 's president morsi to specifically spell out ways the u.s. can help get egypt 's economy back ontrack but that depends on egypt 's politicians clireconciling their differences. there is no sign they plan to do that any time soon.