'Egypt committed to maintaining existing int'l agreements'

Head of military council in charge of Egypt says Cairo will continue to support the Middle East peace process in televised speech.

July 23, 2011 18:59
2 minute read.
Egypt's Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi

Tantawi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Egypt's interim military rulers are committed to maintaining existing regional and international agreements and will continue to support the Middle East peace process, Al-Masry Al Youm quoted Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi as saying on Saturday.

Tantawi stated that relations with Arab and African countries were a priority but he failed to specifically mention Egypt's peace treaty signed with Israel in 1979.

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Tantawi, heading the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that was handed power when Hosni Mubarak was forced to leave office in February, said he was committed to transforming the Arab world's most populous nation into a democracy in a televised address on Saturday.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has come under increasing pressure by protesters who say the army is dragging its feet on reforms.

Egyptian youth protesters vowed to remain in Cairo's Tahrir Square until their demands are met, after violence broke out in Egyptian cities between military police and protesters.

Protesters now on their 15th day of demonstrations have been camped in Tahrir and other squares across the country to back demands for more freedom for the civilian government, led by Essam Sharaf, an end to military trials and a time frame for the completion of the demands for reform.

"We are committed to pressing ahead in turning Egypt to a modern civilian state," Tantawi said in a speech to mark the anniversary of the 1952 revolution, a bloodless coup led by military officers that ousted King Farouk and marked the end of direct British influence.

"We are moving forward on the path to entrenching democracy that upholds freedoms and the rights of citizens through free and fair elections," he added in a pre-recorded speech, his first address to the public since Mubarak was ousted.

Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf reshuffled his cabinet last week and promised to speed up trials and political reforms to placate protesters in the longest-running demonstration since Mubarak was ousted.

But Tantawi, who was Mubarak's defence minister for two decades, did not mention specific responses to the demands of the protests but spoke only of a "united front" to confront challenges facing Egypt both domestically and abroad.

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