Obama with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Egypt neither ally nor enemy: Obama
Washington, September 14, 2012
The US does not consider Egypt's Islamist-led government an ally or an enemy, President Barack Obama said in a television interview.
"I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama told Telemundo, a Spanish-language network, on Wednesday after mobs of demonstrators angry over a film they consider blasphemous to Islam assaulted the US Embassy in Cairo.
He said the newly formed Egyptian government, which was democratically elected, is trying "to find its way."
The attack on the embassy in Cairo coincided with attacks on a US Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi that led to the killing of four US diplomats, including the US ambassador.
Obama's comments reflected US wariness over Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi - who took office in June after the country's first free elections - in the aftermath of the Cairo embassy assault.
Later Thursday, the Obama administration attempted to clarify the president's comments on the US relationship with Egypt.
"'Ally' is a legal term of art," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling with Obama in Colorado.
"The p resident, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly, that we do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt," he added.
The US was a close ally of Egypt under ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak and gives $1.3 billion in military aid a year to Egypt plus other assistance.
Obama ultimately called for Mubarak to step down as he faced mass protests in early 2011. But the US president was criticized for taking too long to assert American influence. - Reuters