Egyptian military ruler Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi said Wednesday that the security in the Sinai Peninsula was "100% under control," a day after a US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Cairo to strengthen its security in the region.
"The security situation in Sinai is 100% safe," MENA news agency quoted Tantawi as saying.
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Visiting Cairo, Panetta said he was "concerned over the situation in Sinai" and strongly urged Tantawi to ensure better security arrangements" in the peninsula, where militants have recently exploded a gas pipeline – the sixth time since February.
The US defense secretary also said it was in the US's "best interest" to equip the Egyptian military to combat "shared threats," MENA reported, adding that the US would be happy to work with Egypt to provide better security.
In August, terrorists carried out deadly attacks in southern Israel after infiltrating the Egypt-Israel border from Sinai.
Responding to Panetta, Marshal Tantawi said that the army "is in complete control" in areas where Egypt is allowed to deploy troops, according to the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1979.
Tantawi added that troops were sent to the demilitarized zones after "discovering that the security situation was unstable."
Last month, more than 1,000 soldiers and police, backed by Egyptian army tanks had conducted an operation against Islamic militants in northern Sinai.
The US defense secretary said it was in the US's "best interest" to equip the Egyptian military to combat "shared threats," MENA said, adding that the US would be happy to work with Egypt to provide better security.
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