Gates Reaffirms U.S. Support of Egypt

CAIRO, March 23, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates met with Egypt­ian lead­ers here today as part of a vis­it offi­cials said is designed to reaf­firm U.S. sup­port and advance the nations’ defense part­ner­ship.
“It’s always a plea­sure to be back in this vibrant and his­toric city,” Gates said, “espe­cial­ly dur­ing a time of mon­u­men­tal promise and change both in Egypt and else­where in the region.”

America’s his­toric rela­tion­ship with Egypt is a cor­ner­stone of U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, Gates said. The U.S.-Egyptian mil­i­tary part­ner­ship has grown over 30 years, he added, “and it is an inte­gral part of the way our two coun­tries pur­sue our com­mon inter­ests and advance sta­bil­i­ty in an often tumul­tuous region.”

Rapid change in the region holds poten­tial new oppor­tu­ni­ties for the Unit­ed States, Gates said.

“I would point to the long­stand­ing rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary and the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary and the con­struc­tive role the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary has played in the events of the past cou­ple of months,” he said.

“For exist­ing gov­ern­ments that under­take a process of reform and that we work with today, those rela­tion­ships will con­tin­ue,” Gates added. “And I think where change is under­way we may have even greater oppor­tu­ni­ties.”

After his meet­ing today with Prime Min­is­ter Essam Sharaf and oth­er Egypt­ian offi­cials, Gates said the lead­ers “do see a need for eco­nom­ic assis­tance, not just from us, but from all their friends.” The Egypt­ian lead­ers see the con­nec­tion between polit­i­cal progress and peo­ple see­ing con­crete improve­ments in the qual­i­ty of their lives, which means a grow­ing econ­o­my, the sec­re­tary added.

“The key here is the sta­bil­i­ty that the Supreme Coun­cil has brought and the nam­ing of the inter­im gov­ern­ment that we hope in the short term will allow for a return of the tourist trade, which is an impor­tant source of income,” Gates said.

As pri­vate indus­try observers see a process of democ­ra­ti­za­tion going for­ward, he added, they will see oppor­tu­ni­ties for invest­ment in Egypt, “which is at the end of the day, both inside Egypt and from exter­nal invest­ment, the long-term solu­tion to their eco­nom­ic prob­lems.”

Gates will meet tomor­row with Field Mar­shal Mohamed Hus­sein Tanta­wi, the nation’s com­man­der in chief and chair­man of the Egypt­ian Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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