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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Comments page of 2
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by: Artoro from: Brazil
July 15, 2012 9:31 AM
hey Clinton... Islam is renowned for defiling contracts... the first thing the Egyptian Islamists said was their intention to renounce the peace treaty with israel... God, I hope Israel take back their Sinai
In Response

by: Doriaann from: USA
July 15, 2012 2:13 PM
Not only that but we are ??? trillion dollars in debt, wondering how to take care of ourselves. How about dealing with that before we give any more away.
In Response

by: McArthur
July 15, 2012 12:13 PM
Reneging the Israel-Egypt peace treaty will be a huge mistake by islamist president Morsi, with serious consequences. Antisemitism and anti-israeli policies and rhetorics are seen as the main criteria defining an islamic regime. In this regard, As an islamist, Morsi needs to reaffirm his anti-israel policies. But if he wants war, he will get it. Israel stands ready to swiftly react to any provocation.

by: Michael from: USA
July 15, 2012 8:25 AM
Frau Clinton gave her opinion that the transition is for the Egyptian people to decide because she is probably looking at the situation in whole, when in fact law is at issue, but a list of specific directions is not given since the United States does not want to set a fixed basis on which Egyptian leadership would perhaps be artificially defined. So I think her statement is justified
In Response

by: ed strigle from: colo
July 15, 2012 2:04 PM
i would hope mrs clinton is using her money and not my tax dollars . seems to me we need the money at home mrs clinton get a life
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