DCSIMG

Defense Secretary Panetta on Democracy in Egypt

Saban Forum, Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Washington, D.C.



U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks at the Saban Forum at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2011 (DOD photo by R. D. Ward)

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks at the Saban Forum at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2011 (DOD photo by R. D. Ward)

MR. POLLACK: Back to Egypt, Egypt just had elections, as you discussed, obviously Islamists and particularly Salafist parties did very well in that election. Do you believe this was – this unexpected rise of the extreme religious right in Egypt is a threat to regional security? What would U.S. policy towards an Egypt which is controlled – (inaudible)?

SEC. PANETTA: Well, I guess we can all jump to conclusions, right now, but I think we need to let this play out a little bit. This is the first part of a rolling election. Clearly we need to see what the results are of this first part of the election. They haven’t been announced yet. We’ll probably get a formal announcement tomorrow. And then they have additional elections that will take place in the parliament that will occur throughout the rest of Egypt. We then will have an election for the upper body that will take place. We then will have, you know, as a consequence of that, a constitution will come together and then we’ll have a presidential election.

I mean, all of that will take place. All of that occurs. This is a democracy. In democracies, we have to allow the Egyptian people to express themselves in that process, and ultimately the pressures within a democracy will have some impact as to its direction. For our purposes, when they come to the conclusion of this process, the United States has to engage with whatever government is established in Egypt and ensure that they abide by their obligations, ensure that they abide by the treaty with Israel, ensure that they abide by international standards, ensure that they continue to be a partner to us in that part of the world.

That’s what democracy is all about. Let’s give it a chance because they are at the beginning of this process, not at the end.

See full transcript of remarks by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta at the Saban Center

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