By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2013 – What happens in Egypt is up to the Egyptian people, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today.
“All nations are limited in their influence in another nation’s internal issues,” Hagel said during a Pentagon news conference with China’s Minister of National Defense Gen. Chang Wanquan.
The United States has influence with Egyptian leaders, Hagel said, but it is narrow and it will be up to the Egyptian people to sort out their country’s issues.
Hundreds of Egyptians have been killed and thousands wounded in recent fighting in Cairo, the Sinai and elsewhere. Nations around the world are urging the Egyptian interim government to support “an inclusive, open, democratic process, allowing all people to have a role in the future of their country,” Hagel said.
Hagel has had several phone calls with Egyptian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Abdelfattah al-Sisi. All members of the U.S. national security team have called their counterparts with the same message: end the violence, lift the national emergency.
“The United States has a longstanding relationship with Egypt that is based on our respect for the people of Egypt, the country of Egypt,” Hagel said. “We have interests, clearly, in the Middle East, interests that include hopefully a development of some progress toward an Israeli- Palestinian settlement. So we continue to work with the Egyptian interim government, as well as the Egyptian military.”
Hagel said he is concerned about the security of American citizens in Egypt.
“Protection of Americans in Egypt, not just only our diplomats, but all Americans, is of the highest priority,” he said. “All the American government officials, including [the] American military, have been working very closely with the Egyptian military and police to assure the security and protection of Americans in Egypt, and we’ll continue to do that.”
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