The United States is a friend to Egypt, President Mohammed Morsi said in an interview in which he stopped short of describing the Obama administration as an ally and stressed the need for the United States to work to repair its image in the Arab world.
In an interview with Charlie Rose for PBS, Morsi said the two countries were friends, not enemies. Asked if that meant they were allies, Morsi said it would depend “on the definition of an ally,” according to a transcript of the interview in which Morsi’s remarks are translated.
“If you mean by ‘ally’ a partnership and a special diplomatic relationship and cooperation, we are that,” said the Egyptian president, who is in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. The comments came after President Barack Obama told Spanish-language Telemundo television on Sept. 12 he considers Egypt neither an ally nor an enemy.
Since being sworn into office on June 30, Morsi, who was drawn from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, has sought to revive Egypt’s diplomatic standing in the region and has stressed that relationships with other countries must be based on mutual respect. Under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt received some $1.3 billion of military aid.
Morsi touched on the issue in the interview, saying the protests in Cairo over a film denigrating Islam’s prophet targeted the embassy because it was a symbol of the U.S. government. The protests also built on a lingering sense of frustration over perceived bias against Arabs and Muslims in the past by the United Sttaes, he said.
There was now an opportunity for Americans, Egyptians and others to reflect on “how they see each other and respect one another, and they respect each other’s religion and faith with mutual respect,” Morsi said.
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