CAIRO – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Cairo, where she met with President Mohamed Morsi to discuss Egypt's economy and regional security. Clinton says she traveled to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition.
"This afternoon, President Morsi and I began a constructive dialogue about the broad, enduring relationship between the United States and Egypt for the 21st century," she told reporters. "We discussed the challenges ahead and how the United States and Egypt can work together in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual interest."
Clinton says the free election of a president for the first time in Egypt's long history is an inspiring achievement and a testament to voters' courage and commitment. But President Morsi's election is not without its challenges. Egyptian judges have dismissed the elected parliament. Egyptian soldiers still wield considerable authority.
"President Morsi made clear that he understands the success of his presidency, and indeed of Egypt’s democratic transition, depends on building consensus across the Egyptian political spectrum to work on a new constitution and parliament," Clinton noted, "to protect civil society, to draft a new constitution that will be respected by all and to assert the full authority of the presidency."
Asked if she believes Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is undermining that presidential authority, Clinton commended the SCAF for representing the Egyptian people in the revolution against former president, Hosni Mubarak.
"As compared to what we are seeing in Syria which is the military murdering their own people, the SCAF here protected the Egyptian nation," Clinton said. "And we commend them for overseeing a free, fair election process. But there is more work ahead."
The political instability of the past year has hurt economic growth and tourism revenue. Secretary Clinton and President Morsi discussed U.S. plans to relieve up to $1 billion in Egyptian debt. She announced a $60-million enterprise fund for small and medium-sized businesses and $250 million in private sector loan guarantees.
On security, Clinton said the Obama administration is hopeful that a new Egypt can emerge as a cornerstone of a peaceful, secure and ever more democratic Middle East.
"More than three decades ago, Egypt and Israel signed a treaty that has allowed a generation to grow up without knowing war," Clinton noted. "And on this foundation we will work together to build a just, comprehensive regional peace in the Middle East, based on two states for two peoples, with peace, security, and dignity for all."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr says President Morsi again re-stated his commitment to honor existing accords.
Amr says Egypt will continue to respect treaties that are respected by the other side. He reaffirmed Egypt's commitment to a comprehensive peace that includes Palestinian rights to their own state based on pre-1967 boundaries with Jerusalem as its capital.
Clinton meets separately Sunday with the head of Egypt's military, with Christian leaders, and with female heads of civil society and business.