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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

US urges Egypt to uphold international treaties

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States led pressure Monday on Egypt's future leaders to honor existing treaties, alluding to the peace process as the Muslim Brotherhood joined talks on the Arab nation's political transition.

Washington "will be a parnert" to an Egyptian government, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs vowed.

But he warned: "We would expect that that partner would uphold particularly the treaties and the obligations that the government of Egypt, and ultimately the people of Egypt, have entered into."

Egypt has played a key role in the Middle East peace process, becoming the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel with a peace treaty signed in 1979. But the historic accord has been sharply criticized by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman Sunday tried to appease days of anti-government protests by inviting several opposition groups to join him on a panel to pilot democratic reform.

Opposition parties, including the powerful Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, repeated their demand that beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak must stand down or immediately delegate his powers to Suleiman.

Since the start of the unrest, Israel -- Washington's biggest ally in the region -- has voiced fears Islamists could seize power in Cairo, threaten to tear up the peace treaty and destabilize the geopolitical map.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech to European lawmakers urged "the international community to demand that a future government in Egypt respect the peace treaty with Israel."

US President Barack Obama said Monday he believed progress was being made amid all the upheaval in Egypt. "Obviously, Egypt has to negotiate a path and they're making progress," he told journalists.

Gibbs stressed, however, the Obama administration has not been in contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, noting significant disagreements with the powerful Islamist movement that has long been officially banned from Egyptian politics.

"We have many disagreements with the rhetoric of some of the leaders in that organization," he told reporters.

"The anti-American rhetoric... that goes very counter to the very regional peace and stability that I spoke of is, of course, not something that is supported by the United States
," Gibbs added.

Demonstrators, who have kept up two weeks of anti-government protests demanding Mubarak's ouster, were unimpressed by the ongoing talks and have vowed to maintain their vigil in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"There are a whole host of elements throughout Egyptian society not represented in its current government, seeking the rights that we've enumerated in here that they have sought, that want to be part of this discussion," Gibbs stressed.

Some Western observers have expressed concern the Brotherhood could sweep to power and institute an Islamist regime that would be no more democratic and might break Egypt's close alliance with Washington.

Gibbs said the US administration has had "conversations with a whole host of players throughout the Egyptian government, and it's important that the leadership Egypt is not going to be determined by us.

"It will be determined by the Egyptian people."

Among those in contact with the Egyptians was Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who spoke by telephone over the weekend with Egyptian armed forces chief of staff, General Sami Enan, a US defense official said.

Mubarak has been a key diplomatic figure in regional diplomacy in his three decades in power, mediating between the Israelis and the rest of the Arab world, and the Palestinians in particular.

The longtime leader has refused to immediately step down but announced last week he would not seek re-election in upcoming September elections.

A leaked 2008 US diplomatic cable, published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks Monday, suggested Suleiman, spelt Soliman in some cables, had good ties with Israel's military and the Jewish state had expected him to take over.

"We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Soliman," the memo citing US diplomats as saying.

Meanwhile, the US administration defended its choice of veteran diplomat Frank Wisner to head a mission to Egypt even though he works for a law firm which has represented Mubarak's government in the past.

"We felt that he was uniquely positioned to have the kind of conversation that we felt needed to be done in Egypt," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

source: Yahoo News

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