Following a close to 90-minute meeting with President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo this afternoon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the time has come for the military to return to its national security duties and to allow Morsi to assume his full presidential authorities.
Clinton spoke at a joint press conference with Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr at the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis, the venue of her first engagements in a two-day visit to Egypt that will include a meeting tomorrow morning (Sunday) with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) commended by Clinton this afternoon for having protected the Egyptian revolution, "unlike the Syrian army."
Clinton said that it would be up to the concerned Egyptian parties to work out the way to complete the democratic transition that started a year and half ago.
Noting Egyptian debate over matters related to the composition of parliament, the drafting of the constitution, and presidential prerogatives, the visiting US secretary of state said that the US is willing to help with the transition, but "only Egyptians can answer these questions."
Meanwhile, Clinton made a point of recognising the commitment that Morsi had made to be a president for all Egyptians and to observe the rights of women and minorities. She also said that she reaffirmed during her meeting with President Morsi US support for the Egyptian economy and reiterated commitments made a few months ago by US President Barack Obama to help Egypt with debt relief and with business promotion.
Clinton said that the US administration is sending a high-level business team to Egypt in September to help explore business and investment opportunities together with Egyptian counterparts.
The US secretary of state added that she pressed with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Amr, the need for Egypt to continue honouring its peace treaty with Israel that has "over the past 30 years allowed a generation of Egyptians to grow up without knowing war."
The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, Clinton said, had brought — and would continue to bring — benefits to Egypt, and continuing to respect it would allow President Morsi to focus on addressing the economy.
In his remarks, Foreign Minister Amr said that Egypt is committed to all its international agreements and would continue to honour the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty as long as the other side does the same.
Clinton added that she had not pressed Morsi to hold a meeting soon with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, saying it is up to the two leaders to work out their schedules.
Peaceful Egyptian-Israeli relations, both Clinton and Amr said, should help pave the way towards a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace that would allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state, "within 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital," Amr added.
On another front, Clinton said she commended the return of Egypt to playing a more holistic regional role and praised President Morsi's scheduled participation in the African Summit that will open this week in Addis Ababa.
Following her meeting with Tantawi in Cairo tomorrow, the US secretary of state is due to leave to Alexandria where she will meet with representatives of Egyptian civil society.