Robert Gibbs
Photo: AFP

US: Relations with Israel won't change

White House press secretary vows regional instability will not affect US friendship with Israel, urges Egypt to hold free, fair elections 'without delay'. Meanwhile defense secretary lauds Egyptian army for showing restraint in protests

WASHINGTON – White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that regional instability in the Middle East would not affect US relations with Israel.


Gibbs spoke at a press conference and responded to criticisms that the US administration had turned its back on a key ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after protesters called on him to step down.


Gibbs said that Washington was firm in its desire to see developments in Egypt that lead towards free and fair elections: "a process that takes place without delay and leads to immediate and irreversible results."


"I am not going to be the play-by-play announcer, and nor is this administration, about what represents progress in Egypt.


"We will know if progress is being made at a pace in which the Egyptian people believe that is happening," Gibbs said, adding that protests in Egypt on Tuesday drew bigger crowds.


Earlier US Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised Egypt's military for its restraint on Tuesday while the White House criticized its government for harassing protesters and journalists as demonstrations swelled anew.


Egypt's military – long the backbone of the government in Cairo – has behaved in "an exemplary fashion" by standing largely on the sidelines during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, Gates told a news conference.


"I would say that they have made a contribution to the evolution of democracy and what we're seeing in Egypt," he said.


Meanwhile Defense Minister Ehud Barak is due in Washington Wednesday to discuss regional developments and their effects on Israel. The US administration has stressed that any future government in Egypt will be urged to maintain peace agreements, including that made with Israel.


Vice President Joe Biden spoke with his Egyptian counterpart, Omar Suleiman, on Tuesday to urge a speedy political reform and transition to democracy.


Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 02.08.11, 23:10
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