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Hagel offers to assist in investigations of terrorist attacks

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Egyptian foreign minister indicates Egypt-US relations are moving in the right direction, but are not ideal

An Egyptian man takes photographs at the site of a powerful car bomb explosion in the Egyptian city of Mansura, North of Cairo, on December 24, 2013. The bombing tore through a police building in Mansura early today, killing at least 14 people, an attack the authorities said was aimed at derailing the country's transition to democracy.  (AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD KHALED)

An Egyptian man takes photographs at the site of a powerful car bomb explosion in Mansura on December 24, 2013.
(AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD KHALED)

United States Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel offered his department’s assistance in investigating recent terrorist attacks in Egypt in a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart on Sunday.

Hagel discussed the explosions that took place in Mansoura, Nasr City, and Sharqia with Egyptian Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, according to the US defence department.

“Secretary Hagel expressed his condolences for the loss of life and injuries from the bombings,” said the US department’s press secretary in a statement. “The secretary condemned the attacks and offered the assistance of the Department of Defence to help the Egyptian government investigate the attacks.”

The two sides discussed the “balance between security and freedom” and Hagel “stressed the role of political inclusiveness in the democratic process”.

The statement added that Hagel expressed “concerns” about Egypt’s political climate ahead of the constitutional referendum, slated to take place mid-January, also mentioning the “continued enforcement of a restrictive demonstrations law”.

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy, on Monday, said that Egypt’s relationship with the United States was “troubled, and then began moving in the right direction especially when US Secretary of State John Kerry last visited Egypt”.

The minister added that the two countries had not yet reached the fully restored relations.

“The Egypt’s foreign moves are part of a strategy of ‘diversification of options’,” added Fahmy, who said that visits to countries including Russia and China were part of Egypt’s independent decision to do so and “not a reaction to any third party, adding that there would be “tangible results soon” following recent visits from Egyptian delegations to various countries.

Last week, Kerry expressed his concern to Fahmy over the Egyptian cabinet’s decision to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation, also raising issues of “recent detentions and arrests” according to a statement issued by the state department.

Kerry also condemned the bombing of the Daqahlia Security Directorate in Mansoura and another attack in Nasr City and expressed his condolences to the victims of the explosions.


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