Clinton praises newly elected Egyptian leadership for 'positive statements'
Egyptian media reports preparations are underway for a visit by the U.S. secretary of state – the first high-profile visit since the election – but her office denies the claim.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quick to congratulate the Egyptian President-elect Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday, amid unconfirmed reports she may be the first top official to pay him an official visit.
U.S. President Barack Obama called Morsi (and his defeated rival Ahmed Shafiq) on Sunday, stressing that the United States "will continue to support Egypt’s transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people as they fulfill the promise of their revolution." He expressed his interest to work with Morsi "on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States."
On Wednesday, Egypt's Al-Ahram reported stated that Clinton might become the first top official to visit Morsi in Cairo on Saturday, following her trip to Finland, Latvia and Russia. The newspaper quoted a source at Cairo's airport, saying they were told to prepare for the visit, but Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at Wednesday's briefing that she doesn't have anything to announce on the matter. "I think she does look forward to a chance to go and consult with the new government at an appropriate moment. But I don't have anything to announce," she said, hinting that a visit to Egypt may not be on the itinerary of Clinton's upcoming trip.
At a press conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Helsinki on Wednesday, Clinton said that "we expect the transition (in Egypt) to continue, as has been promised by the SCAF, and we expect President-elect Morsi, as he forms a government, to demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity that is manifest by representatives of the women of Egypt, of the Coptic Christian community, of the secular, non-religious community, and of course, of young people."
"One election does not a make a democracy," she added. "That’s just the beginning of the hard work. And the hard work requires pluralism, respecting the rights of minorities, independent judiciary, independent media. They have to write a constitution. They have to look at how they’re going to deal with the judicial decision about the parliament and seat a new parliament".
However, Clinton complimented Morsi's initial statements regarding his plans as president. "We’ve heard some very positive statements thus far," she said, "including about respecting international obligations, which would, in our view, cover the peace treaty with Israel. But we have to wait and judge by what is actually done".
On Tuesday, a senior Israeli defense official said Morsi is not likely to disavow the peace treaty with Israel
The official told Haaretz he believed that the ties between the Israeli and Egyptian defense establishments will remain intact. Iran and terror will remain the enemies of both countries, while Gaza and Hamas will continue to be a "shared headache." Relations between Israel and Egypt will continue to be based on mutual interests.
"The talks Morsi held with the American government show this," the official said. "We do not believe that this approach will change any time soon."