US says it anticipated changes in Egyptian military leadership
Washington: Terming the sacking of Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi by President Muhammad Mursi as Egypt`s internal matter, the US has said it had anticipated changes in the Egyptian military leadership.
Top US officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon said they were expecting the changes, but were not aware of the timing.
On Sunday, the new Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi had sacked Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who was not only a close friend of the US but also the powerful head of the country`s military, and the chiefs of Egypt`s armed forces.
US termed it as an internal Egyptian matter, but hoped to continue with the same kind of engagement with them.
"We had expected President Mursi to coordinate with the military to name a new defence team. We will continue to work with Egypt`s civilian and military leaders to advance our many shared interests," said White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney.
"In particular, we are ready to help President Mursi and the military as they continue to work to prevent extremists from operating in the Sinai," he said.
Stressing for the Egyptian military and civilian leadership to work closely with the US to address Egypt`s economic and security challenges, he expressed hope Mursi`s announcements will serve the interests of the Egyptian people and maintain good relations with its neighbours.
Carney further said US "was looking forward to continue to work with" new Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said El-Sisi came from within the ranks of the SCAF, and "we believe we will be able to continue the strong partnership that we have with Egypt".
"It`s important for both the military and civilians leaders in Egypt to work together to address the economic and security challenges facing that country," he said, adding that the US "expected" President Mursi to coordinate changes in the military leadership.
"The US and the Department of Defence, in particular, look forward to continuing a very close relationship with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," Little said during an off camera news conference.
Echoing similar views, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the US did know that discussions were going on about a new defence team.
"When the secretary was in Egypt, we knew that there would be a change at an appropriate moment and that it would be discussed between the civilian leadership and the military," she said, stressing for the need of joint efforts by both the countries to "advance the goals of the democratic transition in Egypt", apart from addressing the ongoing security situation in Sinai.
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