Hillary calls on Egypt generals

Discusses transition of power to President Morsi

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks on Sunday with Egypt’s top military leaders, just hours after calling for them to help smooth the country’s full transition to democracy.

The top US diplomat arrived in Egypt amid a complex power struggle being played out between the newly elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). A day after her first meeting with Morsi, Clinton met with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi — the country’s interim military ruler after president Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year ending three decades in power.

“They discussed the political transition and the SCAF’s ongoing dialogue with President Morsi,” a state department official told reporters after the talks that lasted just over an hour. The two also discussed an economic package proposed by Clinton and “Tantawi stressed that this is what Egyptians need most now, help getting the economy back on track,” the official said.

Clinton has repeatedly called on the military to respect the outcome of the elections and told a news conference her talks with Tantawi would focus on “working to support the military’s return to a purely national security role.”

Choosing her words carefully in the politically charged atmosphere, Clinton said “it is very clear that Egyptians are in the midst of complex negotiations about the transition” including the make-up of parliament, a new constitution and the full powers of the president.”

“Democracy is hard,” she said. “It requires dialogue and compromise and real politics. We are encouraged and we want to be helpful. But we know that it is not for the US to decide, it is for the Egyptian people to decide.”

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