The US has “a special responsibility” to the Palestinians rooted in Washington’s signing of the 1978 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy told The New York Times on Saturday.

“As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians,” Morsy told the Times, “then the [Camp David] treaty remains unfulfilled.”

Washington must live up to its Camp David commitment to Palestinian autonomy, he said on the eve of his first visit to the United States as Egypt’s president.

The Camp David Accords, which established peace between Israel and Egypt, also foresaw a withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and eventual autonomy for the Palestinians.

The Egyptian president also framed the United States’ support for Israel over the Palestinians, along with its support of Arab dictators, as “essentially purchas[ing] with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region.”

Along with addressing other issues, Washington should help establish a Palestinian state in order to overcome anger directed towards it in the Arab world, the Egyptian president said.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama discussed the new ground on which the US-Egypt relationship stands following last year’s revolution that ousted the country’s USaligned longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

“I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.

They’re a new government that is trying to find its way,” the US president said in a television interview.

Egypt, he explained, will need time to develop many basic institutions and the US understands there will be “some rocky times.”

Responding to Obama’s remarks and a question posed by the Times as to whether he considers the US an ally, Morsy retorted, “That depends on your definition of ally,” adding that he envisions the two states as “real friends.”

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Morsy said Obama thanked him for securing the US Embassy during protests against a film made in California that mocked the prophet Muhammad and sparked worldwide demonstrations and violence.

According to Morsy’s official Facebook page, Obama’s letter repeated Washington’s condemnation of the film and said he looked forward to working with Morsy to build on the “strategic partnership.”

“In his letter, President Obama thanked the Egyptian president for Egyptian efforts to secure the mission of the United States in Cairo,” the site wrote.

In another interview Saturday with Egyptian state television, Morsy discussed Syria, asserting that having a strong relationship with Iran is important for Egypt at this time to be able to work out a way to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Morsy described Iran as “a main player in the region that could have an active and supportive role in solving the Syrian problem.”

Morsy, in a move to revive Egypt’s role in the region, asked last month for Iran to join a quartet committee he called for that includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt to try to find a solution to the violence in Syria.

Iran is the only state in the quartet that is an ally to Syrian President Bashar Assad and has accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of helping the rebels who are fighting to topple him.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all demanded that Assad step down. Iran was attacked at the UN Security Council last week for its continuous backing of the Syrian regime.

“I don’t see the presence of Iran in this quartet as a problem, but is a part of solving the [Syrian] problem,” Morsy said, explaining that Iran’s close proximity to Syria and its strong ties with it makes it “vital” in resolving the crisis.

Morsy’s comments came after Saudi Arabia stayed away from the quartet’s last meeting, which Cairo hosted on September 17. Saudi Arabia’s decision was seen by diplomats and Western officials as a reaction to the presence of Shi’ite Iran, the major rival of Sunni Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has not officially commented on why it did not attend that meeting and Egyptian officials gave conflicting explanations for its absence.

Morsy said he could meet with top officials of the three states of the Quartet during the United Nations General Assembly meeting he will attend in New York this week.

“And we do not have a significant problem with Iran, it [the relationship between Egypt and Iran] is normal like with the rest of the world’s states,” said Morsy who last month became the first Egyptian president to visit the Islamic Republic in decades.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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