Amid Tensions, Clinton Meets Morsi
After her first meeting with Egypt’s new president, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded cautiously into a divisive domestic debate over the role of that country’s military, offering U.S. support for the armed forces’ “return to a purely national security role.”
Mrs. Clinton said in brief comments following her meeting with Mohammed Morsi that she pledged American support to mend Egypt’s economy, including following through on a $1 billion financial package U.S. President Barack Obama promised to Egypt last summer.
Mrs. Clinton’s meeting with Mr. Morsi marks a watershed moment in the shifting U.S. relationship with one of its strongest allies in the Arab world. Mr. Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an 84-year-old group that American foreign policy makers have kept at arms length for decades.
In the 17 months since the fall of U.S.-backed President Hosni Mubarak amid nationwide street protests, the Brotherhood has taken control of Egypt’s presidency and its now dissolved parliament, forcing the U.S. to shift its diplomatic heft behind the Islamist group.
Mrs. Clinton used her remarks to stress continuity in an alliance that has buttressed regional peace for decades.
“We believe America’s shared strategic interests with Egypt far outnumber our differences,” she said.
Mrs. Clinton made no direct reference to Mr. Morsi’s Brotherhood. But the startling sight of an American Secretary of State seated next a bearded Islamist president has stirred recrimination and even hostility from the secular-minded political factions who once counted on American largess.