U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hoped to use her first meeting with Egypt's new Islamist president on Saturday to steer Mohammed Morsi toward opening a dialogue with the military that could end the country's political crisis.
Clinton's talks with Morsi at the presidential palace kicked off a series of high-level meetings aimed at stabilizing Egypt's democratic transition and its alliance with the United States, once rock-solid but now increasingly shaky, reports The Associated Press.
They didn't shake hands, at least publicly, and their initial greeting was the subject of speculation because of Morsi's Muslim faith.
"Things change (at) kind of warped speed," Clinton told Morsi. The president, speaking in English, said, "We are very very keen to meet you and happy that you are here." Clinton and Morsi were seated perpendicular to one another, the American on a sofa and the Egyptian on a chair.
Her schedule also included sessions with the head of the military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and the foreign minister, Mohamed Amr.
Morsi is in the middle of a showdown with the generals who ruled Egypt for 16 months after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster and who handed power over to him on June 30. The generals retained far-reaching powers and stripped Morsi of many of his before they stepped down and he was inaugurated.
That move followed a decision last month by Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament, the first democratically elected, after ruling that a third of its members were elected illegally. Morsi has issued a decree to bring lawmakers, many of whom are Morsi's allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, back into session.