Egyptian foreign minister rejects US intervention

February 10, 2011

Chris McGreal, The Guardian

The Egyptian leadership is resisting American pressure for rapid political reform, again warning that mass demonstrations and spreading strikes calling for President Hosni Mubarak’s immediate resignation could lead to a military coup.

The country’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, rejected Washington’s demand for concrete actions to show that major change is under way, saying that Washington should not impose its will.

The White House responded by warning that Cairo has not done enough to satisfy what the Obama administration has previously described as legitimate demands of the protesters.

“I think it is clear that what the government has thus far put forward has yet to meet a minimum threshold for the people of Egypt,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman.

Earlier this week, the US vice-president, Joe Biden, called Mubarak’s deputy, Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief who is now overseeing dealings with the opposition and the promised political transition, to urge him to immediately lift the oppressive 30-year state of emergency.

In an interview with PBS television in the US, Aboul Gheit was asked if he regarded Biden’s call as helpful advice from a friend.

“No, not at all. Why is it so? Because when you speak about prompt, immediate, now – as if you are imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationship with theUnited States, you are imposing your will on him,” he said.

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