Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump puts pressure on GOP Congress Poll: Former Sanders staffer gains steam in race to replace Xavier Becerra Michael Moore: Trump will ‘absolutely’ ban Muslims MORE arrived in Egypt Saturday for a meeting with Egypt’s new president, reports said.
Clinton met with Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new Islamist leader and a long-time member of the Muslim Brotherhood, at the presidential palace in Cairo.
“Things change at kind of warped speed,” Clinton told Morsi, according to a report from the Associated Press. “We are very, very keen to meet you and happy that you are here,” responded Morsi.
Clinton’s arrival to Egypt comes amid growing tensions between Morsi and Egypt’s military generals, who took power after popular protests lead to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
The generals ordered the dissolution of parliament and implemented changes that allow them to retain many of their powers, while also diminishing the new president’s authority, as the country transitions to democracy.
Those moves, shortly before Morsi was sworn into office, have led to street clashes between authorities and protesters and are being challenged in Egypt’s courts.
Morsi attempted to override the military last week, when he called for reinstating parliament.
Clinton’s meeting may also prove controversial on Capitol Hill. Many GOP lawmakers have called on the administration to reconsider foreign aid to Egypt and to denounce the election of an Islamist.
“The Arab Spring is nothing more than a radical Islamic nightmare,” said GOP Rep. Allen West (Fla.) in a message posted on his Facebook page last month.
The administration has been taking a cautious approach to the election of a Muslim Brotherhood candidate, as the group has been linked to violence in the past.
Last week, the White House downplayed reports that Obama had extended an invitation to Morsi. While Morsi’s party in Egypt touted the reports that he would meet Obama in September during a visit to the UN General Assembly, the administration characterized it as an “encounter” and not a meeting.
“Well, the president will be going to UNGA, the United Nations General Assembly, in September, and he will, I’m sure, encounter a number of leaders — after all, that’s a gathering of world leaders — including the new Egyptian president there,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “There are no planned bilateral meetings in Washington around UNGA with any leader.”
Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous state and has been a key U.S. ally under Mubarak. Cairo receives $1.3 billion in military aid annually from the United States.
The administration is keen to continue that aid in hopes of supporting Egypt’s move to democracy and to convince the new government to continue to honor the terms of its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.