Middle East/North Africa

McCain shares ‘disapproval’ with Morsi over anti-Semitic remarks

{mosads}Some conservative Republicans have called for ending the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt following last year’s election of Morsi, a former chief of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.

In an interview from three years ago, which recently came to light, Morsi called Israelis “bloodsuckers,” “warmongers” and the “descendants of apes and pigs.”

“We voiced our strong disapproval of statements he made a few years ago that have recently surfaced,” said McCain. “We had a constructive discussion on this subject. We leave it to the President to make any further comments on this matter that he may wish.”

Morsi has thus far declined to retract those statements.

McCain stressed that both countries would continue to work together and deepen their ties, but cautioned that Washington would watch closely to ensure that Cairo continued on the path of democratization.

“America’s ability to continue our partnership with Egypt, to maintain our assistance to Egypt, to get greater American and foreign investment into Egypt, and to build international support for Egypt – all of this ultimately depends on the progress of democracy in Egypt,” McCain said. “Not just the outcome of elections, or the election of one person or group or another, but on the construction of an inclusive political system, based on the rule of law, that respects the rights of all Egyptian citizens, reforms and grows the Egyptian economy, and upholds Egypt’s international agreements.”

McCain said the senators discussed with Morsi the importance that upcoming parliamentary elections be “free, fair, competitive and consistent with international standards, including the presence of international observers.” But McCain said that matter would be “for Egyptians to decide,” noting that the country was drafting a new law governing elections.

McCain also said senators shared “concerns” they had about the current Egyptian constitution on “issues of religious tolerance, women’s rights, and the due process of justice for civilians.”

The senators also raised the issue of NGO workers who are being tried by the government for their foreign ties, and McCain expressed hope the issue can be “resolved favorably.”

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