US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived Saturday afternoon at the Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis, Cairo, for the first high-level talks of a senior US official with recently-sworn-in Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Clinton, according to informed officials, is planning to raise three main issues with the new president.
One of the main issues to be discussed, according to an official who spoke to Ahram Online on condition of anonymity, is to receive a “clear cut commitment” from the new president that under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt will remain as committed to the peace deal with Israel as it has been over the last three decades.
“There are questions related to Sinai too,” said the official. Israel, according to Western and Egyptian officials in the US capital, Washington DC, has repeatedly complained about what it qualified as loose security arrangements on the Egypt-Israel border, particularly adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
According to what some Western diplomats have said, Israel's complaints concern “documented evidence of arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.”
The second issue on the agenda, according to the same sources, relates to the nature of bilateral relations between Egypt and the US.
According to Egyptian diplomatic sources in Washington, Clinton will assure Morsi of the US’s continuous support and friendship to Egypt.
However, according to one Egyptian diplomat, “She will also make clear that there are certain things that the US expects from Egypt."
In addition to stable relations with Israel, the same diplomat states, “The US is expecting Egypt to use the good ties that link the Muslim Brotherhood with the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip to curtail any plans that Hamas might have towards escalation with Israel."
The US is also expecting Egypt under the presidency of Morsi to remain committed to Egypt’s traditional policy of limited engagement with Iran.
Also on the list of US expectations is a clear cut commitment from the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president on ensuring respect for the rights of women, Copts, and other minorities in Egypt.
The third issue on the agenda of the visiting Secretary of State relates to the internal balance of power in Egypt.
Clinton is set to express US support for coordinated relations between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Brotherhood-backed president.
In addition to her meeting with Morsi, Clinton is set to meet with the heads of SCAF and figures from Egyptian civil society.
According to a senior US official, as reported by Reuters news agency Saturday, Clinton will urge Egypt’s civilian and military leaders to complete a full transition to democratic rule.
Clinton is also expected to hold a press conference this evening in Cairo.
This is the first visit by Clinton to Egypt since March 2011, following the 25 January Revolution that ended three decades of rule under Hosni Mubarak.