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Clinton Meets With Egypt's Military Leader To Urge Cooperation On Political Transition

Egypt's military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (left), meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo on July 15.
Egypt's military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (left), meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo on July 15.
By RFE/RL
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with Egypt's top military leader as part of a trip aimed at securing the country's political transition.

On July 15, Clinton held talks with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the man who served as Egypt's interim ruler following the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year.

Clinton, whose Egypt visit began on July 14 with talks with the country's newly elected president, Muhammad Morsi, has called on the military to respect the outcome of the elections and to resume serving a "purely national security role."

Clinton also met with civil society representatives and entrepreneurs.

She told the meeting that she came to Cairo to express a clear message that international human rights are for all people and that democracy is one of the most important of these rights.

"Here in Egypt, we are committed to protecting and advancing the rights of all Egyptians -- men and women, Muslim and Christian. Everyone who is a citizen of Egypt deserves the same rights under the law," Clinton said. "And I conveyed this to President Morsi in our meeting yesterday that we're going to look to any elected government to support inclusivity."

She said that the United States supports democracy but that democracy is more than just elections.

"I came to Cairo in part to send a very clear message that the United States supports the rights, the universal rights, of all people. And we support democracy," she said, "but democracy has to mean more than just elections. It has to mean that the majority will be protecting the rights of the minority."

Several Christian figures refused to attend the meeting with Clinton to protest what they called American interference in Egypt's internal policies.

The "Al-Ahram" newspaper reported that representatives of the Coptic Church and other figures said they objected to the United States' support for certain political groupings.
   
Scores of activists on July 14 held protests outside the presidential palace and the U.S. Embassy in central Cairo to protest Washington's foreign policy and what they described as the "U.S.-Islamist alliance."

Following her meetings in Cairo on July 15, Clinton went to the northern city of Alexandria to attend the dedication of the U.S. consulate there.

Clinton is the most senior U.S. official to meet Morsi, a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, who was inaugurated last month after what was seen as the country's first free and fair presidential election.

The United States has been a longtime ally of Egypt, with $1.5 billion in aid given annually to Cairo, most of which goes to the military.

Morsi In Ethiopia For AU Summit

Meanwhile, in related news, Morsi flew to Ethiopia on July 15 to attend an African Union summit. 

Morsi, who visited Saudi Arabia last week on his first official trip abroad since taking office, will be the first Egyptian leader to attend an African summit since 1995, when Mubarak, who was ousted in last year's popular uprising, survived an assassination attempt en route to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

Morsi's attendance at the summit is being seen as an attempt by the Islamist leader to improve relations with Nile basin nations.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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