Egypt's Opposition Refuses Kerry's Invitation for Talks

President Mohammed Morsi to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry; opposition leader says visit is a sign of 'U.S. pressure' on Egypt.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in Cairo Saturday for talks with President Mohammed Morsi on Egypt's democratic transition amid an outcry from the opposition.

His two-day visit comes as part of the Middle East leg of his first trip abroad and as Egypt sees a widening rift between its Islamist president and the mostly secular opposition.

Kerry was scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, state media said.

Opposition leaders Mohammed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabahi have however turned down invitations for talks with Washington's new top diplomat to protest what they say is its interference in Egyptian affairs.

"We want to send a message that we reject U.S. pressure," Sabahi told private broadcaster ONTV Friday.

The U.S. has called on the opposition to reverse its decision to boycott the parliamentary election set to begin in April over what it says is a lack of transparency.

Some opposition groups plan to protest outside the Foreign Ministry in Cairo during Kerry's visit.

Washington was a key ally to the regime of Hosni Mubarak who wastoppled after three decades in power in an uprising two years ago.

Kerry was in Turkey on Friday after visiting several European capitals. He is to travel from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates before concluding his tour in Qatar.

During his stop in Turkey, Kerry spoke at an Ankara news conference and said comments by the Turkish prime minister equating Zionism to a crime against humanity complicate the efforts to find peace in the Middle East.