WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday called Egypt’s foreign minister to discuss the country’s economic and political situation, as well as events in Syria, the State Department said.
It said the telephone call covered the same ground as President Barack Obama’s discussion with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on Friday, which the White House said was focused on Egypt’s need for a democratic transition.
Clinton’s call to Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr came as official election results showed that Egypt’s Islamists, led by the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, clinched more than two-thirds of parliamentary seats in historic polls held last year after the ouster of long-time president Hosni Mubarak.
"They also compared notes on Syria in advance of the Arab League meetings this weekend," the State Department said in a brief statement.
The day before, Obama called Tantawi to discuss Egypt’s pending IMF loan and to stress the need for a democratic transition despite recent strife.
The White House also said that Obama argued that it was vital for civil society and non-governmental organizations to be allowed to operate freely in Egypt’s new political structures and also discussed regional security issues.
(Obama) "welcomed the historic seating of the lower house of Egypt’s parliament and offered his congratulations to the Egyptian people on taking this important step towards democracy," a White House statement said.
"The two leaders discussed Egypt’s economic situation and the ongoing discussions between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund on an economic program that can garner the broad support of the Egyptian people."
The IMF said this week that Egypt was seeking to build a political consensus in favor of a much-needed financial support program worth around $3.2 billion designed to create a strong economic recovery.
The economy and government finances have deeply suffered, especially from the loss of tourism income, since the uprising early last year.
Former US president Jimmy Carter, who negotiated the 1978 Camp David accords, said last week that Islamist parties had promised to honor Egypt’s 1979 peace deal with Israel, which is the foundation of regional security and American foreign policy in the region.