5 December 2012

Egypt: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Egypt


Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

QUESTION: On Egypt, there are clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo between Morsi's opponents and Muslim Brotherhood, and the latest information said that a girl from the opposition got killed 10 minutes ago, I think.

MR. TONER: A woman, you say?

QUESTION: A girl, yeah. To what extent you are concerned, and are you talking to both parties?

MR. TONER: Well, Secretary Clinton spoke to this at length earlier today in Brussels. I don't have a great deal to add.

QUESTION: But there were no clashes at that time.

MR. TONER: Well, but there were clashes yesterday, there were injuries yesterday, clearly there was violence yesterday. We want to see an end to violence. The Secretary said the upheaval that we're seeing in the streets of Cairo clearly indicates that dialogue is urgently needed and it must be a two-way dialogue. We need to see a respectful exchange of views and concerns among the Egyptians themselves about the constitutional process and about the substance of that constitution. And going forward, we want to see a peaceful referendum process, one that's monitored by impartial observers, and that it's important for Egyptians both to demonstrate in a peaceful manner and that their right to demonstrate is respected, and that they're allowed to vote in a peaceful and secure environment.

QUESTION: President Morsi's advisor was here. Have you talked to him about the constitution, about the process, about what's going on in --

MR. TONER: He was here. We did - obviously, you saw the White House put out a readout of their meeting with him. Obviously, we - I think Deputy Secretary Burns met with him, and I thought I had a readout here. I don't, but I can guarantee you that we raised all of these issues with him.

QUESTION: Was he preparing for President Morsi's visit to Washington?

MR. TONER: That's a question you're going to have to direct to the White House.


MR. TONER: Yeah, Said.

QUESTION: Baradei had just said that the reversal of --

MR. TONER: I'm sorry, who did?

QUESTION: Baradei, Mohamed ElBaradei.

MR. TONER: Oh, okay. Sorry. Baradei.

QUESTION: He said that the reversal of the constitution order is a precondition for dialogue. Otherwise, they will remain out there mobilized. Do you agree with them or --

MR. TONER: Again, it's not for us to judge one side or the other here except to say that the Egyptian people need to be allowed to protest peacefully. They need to carry out those protests in a peaceful manner. They need to be able to express their views. There needs to be a dialogue between the government and the opposition. All that needs to take place, and there needs to be a real discussion here, as the Secretary stressed.


QUESTION: Did you get any assurances yesterday with this official - Egyptian official who met his counterpart here in the White House, when - where Mr. Tom Donilon emphasized the need of a inclusive constitution? Did you get any assurance from this?

MR. TONER: Again, you're going to have to ask the Egyptians for what they agreed to or didn't agree to. All we really want to make clear is our message to them, which is that we want to see an inclusive process, as you mentioned.

QUESTION: The Washington Post says that opposition from the State Department, whatever Mr. Morsi's administration is doing, has been muted.

MR. TONER: Again, we've been very clear --

QUESTION: Was the State Department in opposition to whatever he - Mr. Morsi was doing?

MR. TONER: I think we've been clear. The Secretary was very clear when she spoke on this issue this morning in Brussels, and I don't really have anything to add.

QUESTION: Hamdeen Sabbahi, the opposition leader in Egypt, has said that --

MR. TONER: I'm going to block your wifi. I think you keep --

QUESTION: I said that President Morsi has lost --

MR. TONER: But this briefing will never end if you just keep reading me news reports and asking for my reaction.

QUESTION: To be up to date. He considered that President Morsi has lost his legitimacy after the killing of this lady and others in - outside the presidential palace.

MR. TONER: Again, we need to see calm restored, an end to the violence, a dialogue between both sides. That's what we're looking for.

That it, guys? Thank you.

QUESTION: Wait, wait. I just --

MR. TONER: Is it - okay. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Forget about it.

MR. TONER: Okay. Thanks. I appreciate it.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 p.m.)

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