US Secretary of State John Kerry’s starts a nine-day Mid East whirl Sunday with a visit of a few hours to Cairo, before traveling to Riyadh for his most important mission: to mend fences with Saudi Arabia and overcome royal antipathy to Barack Obama’s policies on Syria and détente with Tehran. King Abdullah will receive him.

Kerry’s visit to Cairo will be the first by a senior US official since Mohamed Morsi was deposed in July. He arrives the day before the Morsi trial and insists on speaking to representatives of all Egypt’s political factions. He has appointments to see interim president Adly Mansour and foreign minister Ismail Fahmi, but not so far with strongman Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Kerry will also spend time in Israel and the West Bank.