McCain: Egypt army wants swift power transfer

US senator says military council wants to hand power to elected government "as soon as possible" during visit to Cairo.

    McCain, left, and Kerry, right, visited a Coca Cola plant in Cairo [Reuters]

    John McCain, the US senator and former presidential candidate, has said that Egypt's military rulers want to hand over powers to an elected government "as soon as possible".

    "The field marshal [Hussein Tantawi] again indicated his absolute commitment to a transition to a civilian government at the earliest possible time after the elections have taken place," McCain told reporters in Cairo on Sunday.

    McCain is part of a US delegation of senators and business leaders visiting North Africa.

    The Republican senator was speaking following talks with Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which took power following Egypt's revolution in February. 

    The US group arrived in Cairo on Saturday and visited Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's revolt.

    US investment

    Egypt is looking to establish a stable economic programme following the revolution and McCain told reporters in Tahrir Square that the US was "ready to invest in jobs".

    "It is in the United States national security interest to see a prosperous, growing, democratic and free Egypt," he said.

    Senator John Kerry, a Democrat and also a former presidential candidate, expressed his admiration for what the Egyptian people are fighting for.

    He said: "We are both extraordinarily committed to what is happening here in Egypt. Great respect and admiration for the changes you are fighting for.

    "We're honoured to be here with leaders of some of the major corporations in the world and they also have a great interest in the future of Egypt."

    'Listen not dictate'

    At a news conference at a Coca Cola plant in Cairo on Sunday, the senators said they were visiting Egypt to "listen and not to dictate", Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reported from the capital.

    Among the issues that the senators discussed were democratic reforms including international observors, military assistance and private investment, said Mohyeldin.

    The senators were accompanied by Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric, as well as other business leaders from some of the world's biggest corporations, including Coca Cola, ExxonMobil and Boeing.

    The delegation met with Essam Sharaf, Egypt's interim prime minister and Samir Radwan, the Egyptian finance minister, on Saturday, as well as Mohamed Abd Elsalam, the head of the country's stock exchange, on Sunday.

    Hours after the delegation's arrival in Egypt, Radwan announced that, after revising its budget and cutting the forecast deficit, Egypt would not be borrowing from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund even though a loan had been agreed upon.

    In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Radwan said that the country's military rulers did not want to burden the country with debt, and that the government would make up the shortfall by cutting expenditures on some social and public investment projects.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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