Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby (R) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo March 15, 2011. Clinton arrived in Egypt on Tuesday in the highest-level visit by a U.S. official since Hosni Mubarak, long a Washington ally, was toppled from power by a mass uprising last month. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
"Oum El-Doniya is now giving birth to democracy (across the region)," said a smiling US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the beginning of a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi, Tuesday evening in Cairo.
Clinton who is in town for talks with senior Egyptian officials, political activists, civil society representatives and potential presidential candidates was not short on congratulating words for the January Revolution. "This moment of history belongs to you as you broke barriers".
The top US diplomat was not only generous with her supportive statements. She promised political and economic support.
The US, Clinton said, is considering ways to provide Egypt with short and medium range enterprises to help the cause of democracy through establishing a flourishing economy. The US, she added, is open to provide Egypt with letters of credit and to encourage direct foreign investments.
Clinton pledged a $90 million for a "near-term" assistance to Egypt. She also spoke positively of a legislation presented to the Congress to establish a US-Egypt enterprise fund.
"I am satisfied with the willingness and support offered by the US Secretary of State on the economic issues," said El-Arabi.
Attending the talks of El-Arabi and Clinton was the US Head of Overseas Corporate Management and Egyptian ministers of International Planning and of Finance.
Clinton declined to take a stance on the current political debate regarding the controversial proposed constitutional amendments. She insisted, however, that what counts is for the referendum to be fair and free – something that El-Arabi expressed confidence over.
In Cairo Wednesday Clinton is scheduled to meet with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.
Clinton's meetings in Cairo also include Mohamed Baradei and Amr Moussa – the two main presidential candidates. She is also scheduled to meet with members of the January Revolution Coalition.
Meanwhile, Clinton and El-Arabi discussed the situation in Libya and Bahrain.
The US Secretary of State said that the US is "consulting with the Arab League, Upping humanitarian assistance and supporting (Libyan) opposition".
On Bahrain Clinton called for restraint on the part of all and warned against sectarian provocations. US Under-Secretary Jeffery Fieltman, she added, is currently in Bahrain trying to promote a peaceful dialogue and a negotiated solution.
In the first support of its kind to be given by a senior Egyptian official El-Arabi said: "Egypt supports the call of any country for democracy but we believe that this call should always be peaceful – and we have seen it happening and working with our revolution here in Tahrir Saquare."
El-Arabi declined to characterize the situation in Bahrain as a Shia versus Sunni conflict. "They are all Bahraini citizens and we perceive them as such," he said.