Clinton speaks to Egypt's FM as Cairo brokers deal

US secretary of state calls Egyptian counterpart as Israeli, Hamas officials head to Cairo to hash out ceasefire details.

US Secretary of State Clinton with Kamel Amr 370 Amr  (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Secretary of State Clinton with Kamel Amr 370 Amr
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 Amr.
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 Wednesday.
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 continued.
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 past month.
“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.”