US Senator Kerry meets with Egypt's Brotherhood

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2011 4:19 PM
US Senator Kerry meets with Egypt's Brotherhood

U.S. Sen. John Kerry met with members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group set to dominate the new parliament, as well as the country's military ruler and prime minister on Saturday.

The Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement three of its top officials attended the meeting with Kerry, who was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson.

In their meeting with the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Brotherhood officials vowed to respect civil rights and international treaties that have been signed in the past, possibly an attempt to allay fears that the group may try to re-examine Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

The Brotherhood, which was banned under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, has so far won about 47 percent of the vote for the lower house of parliament. Two-thirds of the country have yet to vote in the staggered process that finishes in January, but the outcome is not expected to dramatically change.

Kerry, who is also chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was among the first U.S. politicians to call on Mubarak to step down earlier this year during the massive protests that led to his ouster in February after nearly 30 years in power.

Kerry told the Brotherhood's members on Saturday that he was not surprised by their success in parliamentary elections, according to a statement by the group.

The elections in Egypt are the first since Mubarak was ousted and are considered Egypt's fairest and freest vote in years.

Egypt depends heavily on foreign assistance and cannot afford to dramatically change its foreign policy. Egypt is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, with a large percentage of that going to the military.

Kerry also met separately with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who has been ruling the country since Mubarak was toppled.

The U.S. Senator last visited Egypt in July, when he praised the changes taking place in the country.