Egypt's newly appointed Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Al-Ahram)
In his first visit to Egypt since ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was elected president, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel-Ati said Shoukri and Kerry stressed the importance of developing strategic relations on the basis of mutual respect and the rejection of intervention in internal affairs.
"Shoukri emphasised that there should a greater understanding on the part of the US of the reality of conditions in Egypt. [The US should also] take a correct view of the changes aimed at building a real democratic system which serves the interests of all Egyptians,” Abdel-Ati said.
Abdel-Ati quoted Kerry as stressing the fact that the US has high hopes that Egypt and the US will continue their long-term strategic relations because of their positive impact on strengthening stability in the Middle East and fighting terrorism. Kerry was also quoted as emphasising that there should be regular dialogue with Egypt on all fronts.
For his part, Shoukri said Egypt has great concerns about the security situation in Iraq. According to Shoukri, Egypt believes that the integrity and unity of Iraq must be maintained and the future of Iraq must be determined by all political factions there.
Shoukri also said there must be a political solution to the civil war in Syria, and there must be greater security cooperation between Egypt and other North African countries in the fields of fighting terrorism in Libya, securing the borders with that country and standing against the infiltration of terrorists.
Foreign ministry officials said the meeting between Shoukri and Kerry also reviewed America's economic assistance to Egypt and the possibility of the US participating in the conference proposed by the king of Saudi Arabia to help Egypt overcome its economic and financial problems.
In political terms, a foreign ministry source said Kerry recommended that Egypt espouse "inclusive democracy" in the coming period, meaning that all political factions must have a say in the coming parliament. In response, Shoukri said the Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation, but its members, as ordinary Egyptians, are allowed to exercise their political rights.
Al-Ahram political analyst Emad Gad told Ahram Online: "If inclusive democracy means reintegrating the Muslim Brotherhood into the political process in Egypt, this will be rejected by all political factions."
Gad recommended: "America must learns a lesson from Iraq, that is there is no difference between moderate and extremist Islamist forces and that all are united by the ideology of militant jihadism."
"The problem with the Obama Administration now is that it sees the Brotherhood as a moderate organisation while the overwhelming majority of Egyptians see it as a terrorist group exploiting democracy and elections as tool for turning the country into a religious tyranny," said Gad.
American media sources said the US Congress had approved releasing $572 million in military assistance to Egypt, out of some $650 million as the first tranche of a total $1.3 billion. Kerry must certify to Congress that Egypt has a strategic relationship with the US and is upholding its peace treaty with Israel.