Wed, Feb 09, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Washington urges Egypt to maintain its treaties

AFP, WASHINGTON

The US 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 partner” to an Egyptian government, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said before warning: “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. However, the historic accord has been sharply criticized by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Sunday invited -several opposition groups to join him on a panel to pilot democratic reform. Opposition parties, including the Brotherhood, repeated their demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must stand down or immediately delegate his powers to Suleiman.

Since the start of the unrest, Israel has voiced fears Islamists could seize power in Cairo, threaten to tear up the peace treaty and destabilize the geo-political 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.

“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 said.

“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 said.

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.”

A leaked 2008 US diplomatic cable, published by the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks on 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.

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