Obama on Egypt: ‘I don’t think that we would consider them an ally’

The Obama administration is upset with Egypt over its response to the siege of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. The New York Times has a story on how the incident has heightened U.S. concerns about the new Egyptian government.

“I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy,” Pressident Obama said in an interview with Telemundo, cited by the Times. “I think it’s still a work in progress, but certainly in this situation, what we’re going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected.”

Back in July, The Hill reported that a senior White House official confirmed President Obama had invited Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to meet him when he came to the U.S. for the opening of the General Assembly in September. (In August, I noted — unaware of previous month’s Hill report — that a U.S. visit by Morsi’a was a potential political and diplomatic minefield for the Obama adminsitration.)

A phone conversation between Obama and Morsi following the embassy siege may have reflected some U.S. dissatisfaction, according to The New York Times’ interpretation:

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President Obama telephoned Mr. Morsi and the president of Libya’s National Assembly, the White House said early on Thursday, in calls that seemed different in tone, suggesting dissatisfaction with Cairo’s response as opposed to Tripoli’s.

To Mohammed Magarief, the leader of Libya’s National Assembly, Mr. Obama “expressed appreciation for the cooperation we have received from the Libyan government and people in responding to this outrageous attack,” the White House said in a statement.

To Mr. Morsi, there was no mention of appreciation. Instead, the White House said in a separate but parallel statement that Mr. Obama “underscored the importance of Egypt following through on its commitment to cooperate with the United States in securing U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel.”

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