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US downplays Obama's Egypt comment, calls Cairo 'close partner'
The United States Thursday downplayed the notion of a major reframing of Egypt policy, following President Barack Obama's comment that the country was now neither a US ally nor a foe
AFP, Thursday 13 Sep 2012
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FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. This week's storming of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo by an angry mob has sent U.S.-Egyptian relations to a new low, prompting President Barack Obama to say he doesn't see the two countries as allies. (Photo: AP)

The comment appeared to reflect changing assumptions on the Middle East in the US government, which has seen decades-old allies swept away in the Arab Spring to be replaced by less sympathetic but more representative governments.

"The president, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly. We do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt. Ally is a legal term of art," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"But as the president has said, Egypt is a long-standing and close partner of the United States and we have built on that foundation in supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government."

US relations with Egypt, delicate since the fall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak, are coming under fresh scrutiny after a mob stormed the US embassy in Cairo and tore down the US flag.

Obama spoke with President Mohamed Morsi, the first Islamist leader following an uprising which toppled Mubarak last year, on Wednesday and impressed upon him the need to protect US diplomats, Carney said.

Morsi then said Thursday that foreign diplomats in Egypt should be kept safe, but also slammed a US-made amateur movie deemed insulting to Islam which has sparked fury and violence in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Obama made his comment in an interview with Spanish-language Telemundo on Wednesday.

"I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," the president said.

"I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident," Obama said.

"Certainly in this situation, what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected," Obama said.

Egypt, after Israel, is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, and as it seeks to bolster Morsi's effort to consolidate power against a rising challenger for extremists, Washington is weighing a deal with Egypt's new rulers to relieve $1 billion worth of debt.



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Ben
14-09-2012 04:34am
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Egypt stands to lose out if Morsi doesnt show leadership
The US government had nothing to do with the film at the center of the controversy and has infact condemned it very strongly. This was the act of a mad man, probably instigated by people who wanted to stir up trouble. Egyptian muslims need to understand that and stop the unnecessary violence. The longer this contnues, the more Egypt risks becoming a failed state like Somalia and Afghanistan, and a pariah n the internatonal community. Morsi has to show backbone and leadership in these times and restore calm and peace. Egypt is heavily in debt and desperately needs loans to prevent another social uprising. People need jobs and education, and businesses need to grow and support the economy. It will be impossible for Egypt to borrow money in the international market as no banks or investors will have confidence in its ability to honor the loan if the current situation continues. And forget about receivng billions of dollars of grants from the US now as that request will never receive appro
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Ben
14-09-2012 04:26am
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Egypt stands to lose out if Morsi doesnt show leadership
The US government had nothing to do with the film at the center of the controversy and has infact condemned it very strongly. This was the act of a mad man, probably instigated by people who wanted to stir up trouble. Egyptian muslims need to understand that and stop the unnecessary violence. The longer this contnues, the more Egypt risks becoming a failed state like Somalia and Afghanistan, and a pariah n the internatonal community. Morsi has to show backbone and leadership in these times and restore calm and peace. Egypt is heavily in debt and desperately needs loans to prevent another social uprising. People need jobs and education, and businesses need to grow and support the economy. It will be impossible for Egypt to borrow money in the international market as no banks or investors will have confidence in its ability to honor the loan if the current situation continues. And forget about receivng billions of dollars of grants from the US now as that request will never receive appro
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Lian Yungi
14-09-2012 12:51am
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The president was correct, but he wasn't that smart
No Islamic regime will ever be a true ally of the US, as Islamic values are quite different than American values (at least as long as Muslims are a US minority). In that sense the president was correct. However, Muslims tend to be violent when their 'honor' is not honored (as witnessed in the past 48 hours). I'd expect any US president, especially president Obama, who was raised by Muslims in Indonesia and knows the Muslim culture very well, to consider that Muslim tendency before saying anything that could result in increased violence against Americans.
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Doubter
14-09-2012 12:48am
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Major non-NATO ally
Is not Egypt a "major non-NATO ally" (MNNA)? Is a MNNA country an ally or not? Someone should have asked that to Mr. Carney.
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