Egypt's Morsi to head to US for UN General Assembly

Ahram Online, Friday 21 Sep 2012

President Morsi will not hold private meeting with President Obama during first visit to US since his election; Egyptian foreign minister denies US aid package threatened by recent embassy clashes

Mohamed Morsi
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (Photo: AP)

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will head to New York on Sunday to attend the United Nations General Assembly meetings, in his first visit to the US since his June election.

Morsi is expected to meet with several world leaders, including French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The president will also visit Egyptian communities living in the US.

In a press conference Thursday evening, Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr said the purpose of Morsi's visit is to represent Egypt at the UN. The president is currently planning another visit to Washington in the near future.

Amr also revealed that Morsi is not likely to have a private meeting with US President Barak Obama, as the latter will only deliver a speech to the General Assembly and then leave due to prior commitments.

The foreign minister also denied reports that the US has threatened the $1.5 billion aid package to Egypt after the relationship between the two countries soured as a result of an American-made film that was deemed defamatory to the Prophet Mohamed. The release of the movie resulted in clashes in front of the US embassy which left two dead and hundreds injured.

"There is no tension between Egypt and the US," Amr asserted. "US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Egypt and expressed her gratitude for the efforts the Egyptian government made to protect the US embassy."

Clinton promised Egypt will receive the same US aid package without a decrease in the amount, Amr added.

However, US media speculated last week that talks surrounding a $1 billion debt-swap, which the Egyptian government has yet to acknowledge, will be hampered by the recent events.  

Egypt ranks second on the list of beneficiary countries of US foreign aid after Israel.

President Morsi has lived in the US in the past, including obtaining a doctorate at the University of Southern California. Two of his five children hold the US citizenship.

16 US-based Coptic organisations have called for protests to coincide with Morsi's visit in order to express anger at the so-called "Islamisation of Egypt." Meanwhile, several US Coptic churches have asked their followers to hold rallies to welcome the Egyptian president.

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