Panetta, Dempsey Reassured By Talks with New Egyptian Leaders
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2012 – U.S. officials have good relations with the new Egyptian national defense leaders, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.
Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with their new Egyptian counterparts today, they told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing.
Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi replaced his defense minister and other top generals Aug. 12.
Panetta said he had spoken with Egypt’s new defense minister, Army Gen. Abdul Fattah el-Sisi. “He is a highly experienced officer who was trained and spent a lot of time in the United States,” the secretary said, adding that he thinks the general trained at Fort Benning, Ga., and at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.
The general “expressed his unwavering commitment to the U.S.- Egypt mil-to-mil relationship, which has been really an anchor of stability in the Middle East for more than 30 years.”
Panetta said he told the general he looks forward to continuing the U.S. relationship with the Egyptian military. “General el-Sisi has stressed that he takes seriously Egypt’s obligations under the Camp David treaty, and he’s committed to preventing the Sinai from becoming a staging area for militants,” he said.
Dempsey spoke with Egypt’s new Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Army Gen. Sidqi Sobhi Sayed. “He is another Army War College graduate, so he’s a man with a longstanding relationship with the United States military,” he said. “And I sense a positive trend towards civil control of a professional and a respected military.”
The relationship between the two militaries transcends individuals, Dempsey said. “I, too, was encouraged by President Morsi’s increased emphasis on security in the Sinai, which has been a concern to all of us,” he added.