Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Cairo for talks with Egyptian leaders, reaffirmed the United States' strong support for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition.
At a press briefing July 14 at the Presidential Palace alongside Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Clinton said, “President [Mohamed] Morsi and I began a constructive dialogue about the broad, enduring relationship between the United States and Egypt for the 21st century. We discussed the challenges ahead and how the United States and Egypt can work together in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual interests.”
Clinton is the highest ranking U.S. official to meet with Morsi since he was sworn in two weeks ago as the nation’s first democratically elected president. The meeting comes 17 months after the first demonstrations ushered in a new era for Egypt.
The meetings with Morsi, Amr and other Egyptian leaders focused on three areas — economic development and stabilization, democratic transition, and regional security, a senior State Department official said in a background briefing on the Cairo visit. The secretary’s visit also includes a stop in Alexandria and talks with civil society leaders, business executives, women leaders and religious minorities, the official said.
Clinton said she and Morsi discussed President Obama’s economic package to relieve up to $1 billion in Egypt’s debt as its democratic transition moves forward. Working with the U.S. Congress, Obama is preparing to provide budget support to help Egypt stabilize its economy and use debt relief to foster innovation, growth and job creation, she added. And the United States will work with Egypt for support from international financial institutions and other donors, she said.
“We are also focused on increasing trade, investment and entrepreneurship to create jobs, and are ready to make available $250 million in loan guarantees to Egyptian small- and medium-sized businesses,” Clinton said. A high-level U.S. delegation will visit Cairo in September to look for new investment and trade opportunities, and the United States is creating a U.S.-Egypt Enterprise Fund that will be launched with $60 million. The fund model has been used in other countries to foster economic development between local business leaders and American business executives.
Clinton said she and Morsi also discussed the importance of keeping Egypt’s democratic transition moving forward. She commended Morsi on his pledge to serve all Egyptians, including women and minorities, and to protect the rights of all Egyptians.
“President Morsi made clear that he understands the success of his presidency and, indeed, of Egypt’s democratic transition depend on building consensus across the Egyptian political spectrum, to work on a new constitution at parliament, to protect civil society, to draft a new constitution that will be respected by all, and to assert the full authority of the presidency,” Clinton added.
Clinton commended Morsi for attending the African Union Summit to reassert Egyptian leadership in Africa, and she emphasized the importance of upholding Egypt’s international agreements.
“We know that Egypt’s future is up to the Egyptian people, but we want to be a good partner,” Clinton said. “We want to support the democracy that has been achieved by the courage and sacrifice of the Egyptian people and to see a future of great potential be realized for the nearly 90 million people of Egypt who are expecting that to occur.”
In addition to meeting with Egypt’s civilian leadership, Clinton also met with Egypt’s top military leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, in Cairo. The secretary was also scheduled to hold meetings with women civil society activists from a range of walks of life and some who work on democracy, education and health. She will also meet with women who work in the business sector, as well as a cross section of women reflecting the diversity of Egypt’s civil society, a senior State Department official said.
Clinton also was scheduled on July 15 to meet with more than a dozen Christian leaders from across Egypt who represent a variety of denominations to hear their concerns and to talk to them about what they plan to do to contribute to the democratic transition and to a new Egypt over time, the senior official said.
In Alexandria, which is Egypt’s Mediterranean commercial hub, Clinton was scheduled to reopen the U.S. consulate and make remarks about the positive role the United States can offer in the economic and political transition of the nation, the senior official said.