WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to her Egyptian
counterpart on Monday as Cairo continued to broker talks over the details of a
cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
“Our sense is that discussions are
ongoing, that the sides are talking, and we will see what comes of that,” State
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing following the
phone call between Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel
Nuland also said she was unaware of any request by Egypt to send US
troops to Sinai as part of the cease-fire deal, despite some reports suggesting
that was in the works.
“I do not have any indications at the moment that
additional help has been requested,” she said.
Nuland declined to
speculate over whether Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s recent seizure of
sweeping powers was a result of him feeling emboldened by his status in
mediating the situation in Gaza.
She did, however, note that Clinton had
not been informed of Morsi’s intention to assume such powers, including
exemption from judicial authority, during her visit with him in Cairo on
During her phone conversation with Amr, Clinton raised US
concerns over Morsi’s actions.
Nuland said the Obama administration still
supported American economic assistance to Egypt, but indicated that Congress
could be hesitant to approve further economic assistance to Egypt in light of
Morsi’s moves. However, Nuland said the US was pleased that Morsi was conducting
conversations with the various stakeholders.
“We were concerned that
there would be violence,” Clinton said, referring to the demonstrations that
rocked Egypt after the move was made public and left at least one person dead
and more than 500 injured.
“The fact that the right people are talking to
each other is a good step, but obviously we want to see this issue resolved in a
way that meets the standards and principles that we’ve been supporting,” she
Nuland also reiterated American objections to Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to seek partial recognition for the Palestinians
at the UN General Assembly.
She said that Clinton had made clear her
opposition during her meeting with Abbas while in the region last week, and that
she has stressed that point in her conversations with other leaders over the
“We do not think this step is going to bring the Palestinian
people any closer to a state, that we think it’s a mistake; that we oppose it,
that we will oppose it,” Nuland said. “We are continuing to make that clear not
only directly to President Abbas and the Palestinians, but also to all of our UN
partners as well.”