Washington: Terming Egypt a strategic partner, Pentagon has said it has a very strong defence relationship with that country, one that has been built up over many decades.
The comments came soon after US President Barack Obama said the Egypt was neither an "ally nor a friend" of US.
"I think that 'ally' is a legal term of art. We don't have a mutual defence treaty with Egypt. What we do have is a very strong defence relationship with that country, one that has been built up over many decades.”
"And we expect that strong defence relationship to continue. That's certainly our desire," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters yesterday.
He was responding to questions related to the statement made by Obama in this regard.
"I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy. They are a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected.”
"I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident," Obama told the Spanish Telemundo channel in an interview yesterday.
The United States, Little said, has always considered Egypt a strategic partner and continue to do so today.
"We look forward to continuing our bilateral defence relationship," he said.
US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, who recently visited Egypt, has had very productive discussions there with the new Egyptian President and military leadership.
"Our relationship with Egypt, we believe, is on the right track when it comes to our military ties," he said. "Why not call them an ally?" Little was asked.
"I don't think that we really need to get into semantics. I think I've said what I have said, and that is that 'ally' is, in fact, a legal term of art and we do not have a mutual defence treaty with that country," he said.
The State Department too had some explanation to do with regard to its relationship with Egypt.
“As a matter of fact and practice, the word 'ally' generally is used with a treaty ally, which is a different matter than the fact that we have a very close and long-standing partnership with Egypt and we are working together to support their democratic transition," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.
"Do you know if anyone from this building has gotten in touch with the White House to say that the President misspoke?," she was asked.
"I am not going to speak to our internal discussion." she responded.
First Published: Friday, September 14, 2012, 11:06