Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Egypt today that he believes new President Mohamed Morsi is “his own man” and won’t be moved by his party, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Panetta was in Cairo today on his second trip there as secretary of Defense. He had “very productive” meetings with Morsi and Field Marshal Tantawi of the transitional military leadership.
“Field Marshal Tantawi’s leadership, I believe, has been critical in overseeing a peaceful, free and fair election. And I commended him and the SCAF [Supreme Council of Armed Forces] on their positive role in this process,” Panetta told reporters.
He was asked whether the U.S. can depend on its relationship with Morsi, considering the Muslim Brotherhood’s ties to terrorist organization Hamas.
“I was convinced that President Morsi is his own man and that he is the president of all the Egyptian people and that he is truly committed to implementing democratic reforms here in Egypt,” Panetta said.
Morsi, a longtime leader in the Brotherhood, reportedly responded to a communication from Israeli President Shimon Peres today by pledging to talk Middle East peace. But after Peres’ office announced the message, Egypt quickly denied Morsi had reached out to Israel.
“President Morsi didn’t send any letter to the Israeli president,” Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali was quoted as saying by Egypt’s state-owned al-Ahram newspaper. “What the Israeli newspapers published is fake and this falsehood won’t stop.”