Clinton Meets with Tantawi in Cairo

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and other military leaders in Cairo Sunday, following Saturday's meeting with newly elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Clinton told Morsi the U.S. would support $1 billion in debt relief, private investment capital and job creation funds. Earlier this year, the U.S. released $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt.

Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been locked in a power struggle with Tantawi's council of generals in SCAF (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) since assuming the presidency on June 20.

Just before Morsi took office, SCAF ordered the parliament dissolved after Egypt's constitutional court ruled the legislative elections were not conducted legally. At the same time, SCAF granted itself broad-based powers, including the drafting of a new constitution.

Morsi summarily dismissed SCAF's directive and ordered parliament to reconvene, announcing that legislative elections would be held 60 days after a new constitution was ratified. That would give Islamist parties (the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist al-Nour Party), who hold a 70 percent majority in the parliament, the opportunity to draft a constitution based on Sharia law.

Meanwhile, Clinton urged Tantawi -- who led the interim government after Mubarak was forced to resign last year -- to "support the military's return to a purely national security role."

In a joint news conference Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr said Morsi would respect all international treaties, including the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, noting that Morsi supported a "comprehensive" peace deal establishing a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 armistice lines with east Jerusalem as its capital -- a nonstarter for Israel.

Later Sunday, Clinton will meet with leaders of Egypt's Christian Copts and with women activists who fear the country's takeover by an Islamist government. Demonstrators rallied outside the U.S. embassy and Clinton's hotel to protest "U.S. interference in domestic affairs," Egypt's state-run MENA news agency reported.

Clinton arrives in Israel Sunday evening ahead of meetings Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres.

Among the issues to be discussed are the Iranian nuclear program, the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the ongoing violence in Syria and the stalemated talks with the Palestinian Authority.

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