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Middle East
Egypt rejects US advice on reforms
Foreign minister rejects calls for immediate repeal of emergency law and says US "imposing its will" on Cairo
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2011 20:38 GMT

The US vice-president had asked Egypt to involve more opposition members in devising a road map to end crisis [EPA

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, has rejected US calls for the immediate repeal of its emergency law and said Washington seemed to be trying to impose its will on Cairo.

Asked if he viewed the advice provided by Joe Biden, the US vice-president, as helpful, Gheit told the PBS NewsHour programme "not at all,” according to an interview transcript provided by the US TV broadcaster on Wednesday.

Biden on Tuesday had set out four steps the US wanted Egypt to take, telling it to stop harassing protesters and to immediately repeal the emergency law allowing detention without charge.

Biden also told Egypt to broaden participation in a national dialogue, to include more opposition members and to treat the opposition as a partner in devising a road map to end Egypt's political crisis.

Asked why he found this unhelpful, Gheit told PBS: "Because when you speak about prompt, immediate, now - as if you are imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationship with the United States, you are imposing your will on him."

He also said he was astounded that Biden had called for ending the emergency law as the government grapples with mass street protests now in their third week.

"When I read it this morning I was really amazed because right now, as we speak, we have 17,000 prisoners loose in the streets out of jails that have been destroyed. How can you ask me to sort of disband that emergency law while I'm in difficulty?" he said.

"Give me time, allow me to have control to stabilise the nation, to stabilise the state and then we would look into the issue."

Source:
Agencies
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