US-Egyptian relations 'as engaged as ever': Egypt FM

Ahram Online, Wednesday 25 Sep 2013

Egypt's FM Nabil Fahmy says interim-government committed to transition to democracy, not worried about US aid

Nabil Fahmy
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said he is "not worried" about the US aid package to his country, stressing that the interim-government's objective is to pursue its transitional roadmap to democracy.

His remarks came shortly after US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that continued US support for Egypt depends on its progress towards democracy amid bitter political turmoil.

In a brief interview with CNN, Fahmy made it clear that the country's interim leaders are committed to establishing a democratic state.

"That's our objective. We have a 9-month roadmap to establish a democratic system, a new constitution, parliamentary elections and presidential elections," Fahmy said on the sidelines of his visit to the US for the United Nations General Assembly.

"Whether there is an aid package or not this is our commitment... I'm not worried about it."

Asked about concerns Obama administration officials have raised regarding the military overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi - Egypt's first freely elected president, Fahmy said: "It's not about how you were elected; it is what you do after you are elected."

"The military intervened in 2011 in response to the people. They continued to govern for a year-and-a-half and you [the US] didn’t consider it to be a coup," he elaborated.

"When the military intervened in 2013, they governed for less than 3 days. They didn’t seize power, they responded to the demands of the street to prevent chaos and handed over [power] to a civilian government."

The army governed Egypt for a transitional year-and-a-half following the downfall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 until Morsi was elected president in June 2012.

The Islamist president was deposed by the military a year later, on 3 July amid mass street protests against his turbulent year in power.

US President Barack Obama told the annual UN General Assembly Tuesday that "Morsi was democratically elected, but proved unwilling or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive."

Obama also lashed out at the new interim-government for decisions which he said were "inconsistent" with democracy.

"The interim government that replaced him responded to the desires of millions of Egyptians who believed the revolution had taken a wrong turn, but it too has made decisions that are inconsistent with inclusive democracy – through an emergency law, and restrictions on the press, civil society, and oppositional parties."

However, the US President vowed that "the United States will maintain a constructive relationship with the interim-government that promotes core interests like the Camp David Accords and counter-terrorism."

Asked about ties between the two countrties, which are believed to have been strained by Morsi's ouster, the Egyptian senior diplomat said US-Egyptian relationships are "as engaged as ever."

"They are of course dealing with a lot of sensitive issues, particularly the domestic situation in Egypt and the Syrian conflict," he added.

The United States had said its aid package to Egypt was under review after the country's military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government on 3 July and then cracked down on pro-Morsi protesters over the last month.

Washington has already halted deliveries of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

The US gives Egypt 1.5 billion dollars in annual, predominantly military, aid.

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