Washington's chief diplomat has reaffirmed the US's "strong support" for Egypt's transition towards democracy in her first meeting with new President Mohammed Morsi.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Egypt's new president that Washington supports the "full transition" to civilian rule and further economic development in the country.
"I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition," Clinton told reporters in Cairo after she met with Morsi on Saturday. "We want to be a good partner and we want to support the democracy that has been achieved by the courage and sacrifice of the Egyptian people."
Clinton also said she had praised Morsi, considered a moderate Islamist, for promising to serve all Egyptians and to protect the rights of women and minorities.
Morsi spoke publicly with Clinton in English on greeting the US delegation at his presidential palace, saying "We are very, very keen to meet you and happy that you are here."
Meeting amid Morsi's power struggle
Clinton also met on Sunday with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) during her two-day visit, as the more secular military and judiciary clash with Morsi's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party.
"They discussed the political transition and the SCAF's ongoing dialog with President Morsi," a state department official told reporters after the talks.
The country's slow transition towards democracy after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak last February has been marked by divisions between the two factions - some Egyptians stood outside the presidential palace on Saturday waving banners protesting what they called US interference in domestic affairs.
Tantawi's SCAF yielded power to Morsi on June 30, but only after issuing a constitutional declaration vastly diluting the president's powers - especially on issues like government spending and the outstanding process of drafting a new constitution. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, had disbanded parliament on the eve of the presidential runoff vote; Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its allies held the majority of parliamentary seats.
Morsi ordered parliament to reconvene, which it did briefly, on July 10, apparently defying the courts. A day after the lawmakers convened, however, Morsi said he would respect the ruling overturning his decree, an apparent attempt to appease the military and judiciary.
Clinton did not refer directly to the apparent power struggle, and said that resolving any such issues was the job of Egyptians rather than Washington.
"Democracy is hard," the secretary of state said. "It requires dialogue and compromise and real politics. We are encouraged and we want to be helpful. But we know it is not for the United States, it is for the Egyptian people to decide."
tj,msh/jlw(AFP, AP, dpa)