Question: Would you please brief us on the meeting.
Assistant Secretary Feltman: It is an honor for me to be back in Cairo, back in Egypt, and to join Ambassador Anne Patterson in meetings today, including just now with his Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Kamal Amr. As I often say — I think I have said here in this building — for the United States, we have no more important partner in the Arab World than Egypt. Egypt’s leadership in the region provides for us important insights into a region that’s in transition in 2011-2012. So it is important for us to maintain a strong series of bilateral consultations with the government of Egypt. I also took the opportunity in my meetings today to offer congratulations to the Egyptian people for the successful rounds of the parliamentary elections that are now underway and are being concluded. This is exciting for the United States to watch as the Egyptian people go out, cast their ballots and decide who will represent them in Egypt’s new parliament. We discussed today with His Excellency the Foreign Minister a number of regional issues, including Egypt’s perspective on the transitions taking place elsewhere in the Arab world such as Libya, Tunisia, the Arab League initiative in Syria; also, of course, we have discussed something that has been in the news a lot, which is the question of non-governmental organizations that received funding from the United States through our assistance program, and I was encouraged by the process for bringing these non-governmental organizations into proper registration in Egypt.
Question: Is the United States in a position to choose between SCAF and the revolution or between SCAF and democracy?
Assistant Secretary Feltman: Well, let me be clear. The Egyptian parliament is being formed by the outcome of the votes of the Egyptian people. The Egyptian people are the ones who are responsible for electing the members of parliament. The parliament will be playing a role in governing Egypt as Egypt goes forward. The United States does not pick who rules Egypt; the Egyptians pick who rules Egypt. But we believe that this partnership that we have with Egypt is so important for both of our peoples, for both of our countries. It is not a one-way street. There is a benefit for us in working with Egypt. We believe there is benefit for Egypt in working with the United States. We would hope that any government in Egypt that comes together as a result of this democratic transition will see the benefits of maintaining a strong partnership with mutual benefits.
Question: Does the United States still trust the Arab League monitoring delegation in Syria? Do you think this is the best way to wait and see what they are going to write in the report?
Assistant Secretary Feltman: We all want to see the violence in Syria come to an end, and the Arab League has been quite clear in what the Arab League expects to see in Syria, that is for the Syrian government to comply with the Arab League initiative. But ultimately it’s up to the Arab League to decide whether its conditions have been met or not, and I do not want to second guess the Arab League on how it’s going to decide. I know that there are meetings that are coming up. In terms of the United States though, we are looking for ways that we can contribute to a regional and international effort in order to stop the violence, find ways to permit Syrian civilians to demonstrate peacefully, to put pressure on the regime to release prisoners, but that is separate from the Arab League initiative which is for the Arabs to talk about.
Question: Do you think that the relations between the United States and Egypt has been affected seriously after the NGO issue?
Assistant Secretary Feltman: This is a strong relationship, this is a historic relationship. As I was saying earlier, we believe that there are benefits for both of our countries and I am absolutely convinced — at least from the side of Washington — that we are committed to working through whatever issues may arise between our two countries because the mutual benefits of maintaining a strong partnership are so great.
Originally posted by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt