News / Middle East

    Clinton Offers Aid to Egypt's Feuding Civilian, Military Leaders

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, right, at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 2012.U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, right, at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 2012.
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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, right, at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 2012.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, right, at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 2012.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Tel Aviv after ending two days of talks with Egypt's quarrelling civilian and military leaders. She offered them U.S. assistance for the struggling Egyptian economy without publicly taking sides in their ongoing power struggle. 

     

    A U.S. State Department official said Clinton discussed U.S. aid proposals at a meeting in Cairo Sunday with Egyptian military chief Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. The official said Tantawi told Clinton that reviving the Egyptian economy is a priority for his country. Clinton revealed details of the U.S. aid pledge on Saturday, when she held talks with Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who took office last month.

     

    VOA correspondent Scott Stearns, who is traveling with Clinton, said debt relief is a major part of the U.S. package. 

     

    "In both her talks with President Morsi and Field Marshal Tantawi, she discussed the U.S. ability to help the Egyptian economy. The political instability here in Egypt has really hurt economic growth and tourism revenue. So U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing a package of debt relief that could go as high as $1 billion. Tantawi said that's really the chief priority now; that's what Egyptians need - a better economy," he said. 

     

    Other U.S. aid proposals include a $60 million fund for Egypt's small- and medium-sized businesses and $250 million in private-sector loan guarantees. Stearns said Egypt will have to negotiate the terms of the broader debt relief package with the United States, but that process cannot begin until Mr. Morsi forms a Cabinet. 

     

    The U.S. State Department official said Clinton also urged Tantawi to protect the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities, as military leaders and President Morsi try to resolve disputes about the country's political transition.

     

    A Tantawi-led military council transferred the leadership of the country to Mr. Morsi after he won the country's first free presidential election in a military supervised vote. But days before Mr. Morsi's inauguration, the military council stripped the presidency of much of its power and disbanded an elected lower house of parliament dominated by his Islamist allies. Mr. Morsi ordered the assembly to reconvene in defiance of the military.

     

    The power struggle has left the United States in a delicate position with Egypt, a longtime ally ruled for decades by military figures who suppressed Islamist opposition movements. 

     

    Speaking Saturday, Clinton urged the Egyptian military to return to a "purely national security role." But she also said it is up to the Egyptian people, not the United States, to determine their democratic development through dialogue and compromise. 

     

    After Sunday's meeting, Tantawi said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces "respects" the country's legislative and executive authorities. But speaking in Ismaila, he also warned that the military will not allow any group to undermine its role of protecting Egypt. 

     

    Clinton later visited the U.S. embassy in Cairo and told diplomatic staff that Egypt must do more to become a true democracy.

     

    "Elections are just the beginning. It's not the end of anything. Now a government must be formed, a government that will respect the rights of all Egyptians: men and women, Muslims and Christians, wherever they live in the country. We respect the right of Egyptians to build their country, but we believe strongly that universal rights must be protected. All people deserve dignity. All people deserve their freedom," she said. 

     

    Clinton was due to depart for Israel late Sunday.


    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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    by: George Tannous from: Ontario
    July 16, 2012 7:25 PM
    Let us talk about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, Stop violence and hate. There is no government or constitution without the freedom of speech. Let Clinton talks about industry, tourist and education. Slavery made by violence and terror...

    by: Optimist
    July 16, 2012 11:13 AM
    The only way to force old African dictators to leave power is to throw them some bones, and when they look away to pick up those bones, then change the seating structures and throw them off.

    by: Breezanemom from: Florida, US
    July 16, 2012 5:45 AM
    Yeah, Hillary, give away the money that the U.S. DOESN'T have to some foreign government when we can't/won't take care of the people that we have in our OWN country. How about we spend whatever money you offered to them to take our own HOMELESS VETS and HOMELESS FAMILIES, living right down the street from the White House, and give them jobs and homes?
    In Response

    by: mauicat from: United States
    July 16, 2012 10:34 PM
    Totally agree! I do NOT give this administration permission to borrow MY money and mortgage my family's future to squander on an unstable government!! Who does she think will be the steward of this money and what will happen to it? Our nation is not in position to put money, we don't have, into the hands of questionable leaders.
    But oh yeah, I forgot that's just our kiss ass style and who gives a crap what they do with it - it's the thought that counts, right?

    by: Godwin from: Accra
    July 16, 2012 4:49 AM
    I thought Hilary was said to be frank, hard hitting and not a coward. What was she afraid of? She should have told the Egyptian military that they belong to the barracks period. If they want to do politics, or wield political power, they should resign from the army and stand for elections.

    by: Andrey from: Russia
    July 16, 2012 1:56 AM
    why don't you mentioned about the fact that her procession was pelted with tomatoes by Egyptians. Very warm greeting ;)

    by: NOBO2012 from: San Francisco
    July 16, 2012 1:08 AM
    Why don't we just give them $2 billion in tomatoes! Seems like they ran out throwing them at the motorcade.

    by: John from: Kennewick Wa
    July 15, 2012 2:51 PM
    When in this world are we going to stop giving money that we don't have to country's that don't like us and want us dead.....
    Let's just give Iran some money then....or any other that hates us and doesn't want our form of govt. This form of govt. doesn't work is legalistic Islamic regimes. There is nothing to gain here so keep my money and my children's money here if USA to help us get back to that which is needed.......stay at home....keep it at home .....let the Europeans take care of them.....
    In Response

    by: usfrog from: Salinas CA
    July 16, 2012 3:14 AM
    I agree with you, John. We should not be throwing our money away to support the Muslim Brotherhood. But you know how it is, it's always easy (for these politicians) to give other people's money away. Clinton should be giving funds from her own fortune, not our hard-earned money.

    by: Sheila from: USA
    July 15, 2012 2:05 PM
    What about the hostages from Massachusetts?
    In Response

    by: Joachim Housedorpf from: Germany
    July 16, 2012 12:00 AM
    why wouldn't the USA direct Israel to obliterate the terrorists that are holding the American hostages...??? I know many Israelies here, these are some very smart people, let them solve the hostage problem

    by: Awilda Tyner from: Fort Worth Texas
    July 15, 2012 1:44 PM
    I strongly protest Mrs Clinton's offering help of any kind to Egypt. Enough of our involvement in other countries' problems - let them solve them - just like we have to solve ours. At the moment, with a weak economy in all areas; the present problems due to mother nature's disasters, etc - lets take care of ourselves first !!!!

    by: Bob from: U.S.
    July 15, 2012 1:28 PM
    When we have unemployment at almost 9%, our debt is 17 trillion, we must soon raise it, those employed not sure their jobs will last, so where does the billion come from?.....is the government just going to print more money so our inflation will rise?........we do not need to be giving charity when many in our country need it worse.......
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