William Burns, heading for Israel, reassures Egypt of assistance


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Deputy U.S. Secretary of State William Burns after meeting with new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said the United States was "fully committed" to assistance for Egypt.

Burns, who will visit Israel later this week for another round in the U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue, met Monday with Morsi.

"The United States will do all we can to help ensure a successful transition in Egypt, which offers the best path to realize the aspirations of the Egyptian people for dignity, for opportunity, for security, and for a voice in their own affairs," Burns said after the meeting. "Egyptians know far better than we do that their aspirations are not yet fully realized, but they can count on America’s partnership on the complicated road ahead."

Some lawmakers in Congress, wary of Morsi’s affiliiations with the Islamist party Muslim Brotherhood, want the United States to slow down assistance until it becomes clear that Morsi remains committed to the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Burns said he was in Cairo to prepare for a visit later this month to Egypt by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the highest level visit since Morsi’s election in June.

Burns alluded to the U.S. expectation that Morsi will uphold the peace.

"We are fully committed to working with Egypt’s president, its new government and all parties to sustain our partnership and advance our shared interest in a strong, democratic and economically vibrant Egypt that is a force for peace and stability in the region," he said.

Burns later this week in Israel will lead the U.S. side in the strategic dialogue. Clinton also is scheduled to visit Israel later this month.

Such visits have intensified in recent months as the United States and Israel coordinate on how best to deal with Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The Obama administration wants to exhaust its two-pronged effort of leading Western engagement with the Iranian regime while also intensifying its isolation.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that dialogue has failed and is skeptical of the efficacy of new sanctions, and wants to see a more pronounced threat of military action.

Burns also will meet with Palestinian Authority leaders in the West Bank.

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