US under Secretary Burns, Defence Minister debate Egypt future

Ahram Online , Monday 15 Jul 2013

The highest US diplomat to visit since the military deposed Morsi in response to massive protests relays the country's stance to Defence Minister El-Sisi and interim President Mansour

US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns (photo: Reuters)

Under Secretary of State Bill Burns praised the army for responding to Egyptians' will, but also stressed that the US administration is keen to ensure a peaceful democratic transition with a clear roadmap in the form of elections in the wake of the ouster of Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, an informed source tells Al-Ahram Arabic news site.

Burns relayed the US position in a two-hour meeting with Defence Minister Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi on Monday at the defence ministry. The under secretary of state is the highest-level diplomat to visit Egypt since 3 July, when Morsi was deposed by Egypt's Armed Forces after massive nationwide protests to withdraw confidence in the president.

US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, the army’s chief of staff and a number of El-Sisi’s aides were also reportedly present.

During the meeting El-Sisi is also said to have stressed that the army’s role is national - not political. He also described Egypt's deterioration under the rule of the deposed president, which led to the army to back the massive, nationwide protests to withdraw confidence from Morsi and call for early elections.

US aid was touched on during the meeting, where the army claimed that the US is more keen than Egypt on keeping the military aid as an assurance of the continuation of military ties between the two countries.

Separately, Burns also met with Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour, reportedly on regional and international issues and means of cooperation.

Patterson also attended the meeting, with the addition of Presidential Aide for Political Affairs Mostafa Hegazy.

Under Secretary of State William Burns arrived in Cairo early on Monday as part of a two-day visit to urge for a stop to current violence in the country and also to encourage the formation of a democratic, civilian government following the overthrow of the Islamist president.

The military deposed elected president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July after days of mass nationwide demonstrations against him. The ouster and the unrest that followed, which has killed dozens and injured more than 1,400 people across Egypt, has raised concerns in Washington.

Also, the White House had said on Wednesday that it would take time to determine whether to call the Egyptian military's move to dismiss Morsi a "coup," or consider it simply a response to the massive anti-Morsi protests.

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