WASHINGTON, Aug 23, 2012 (AFP) -
WASHINGTON, Aug 23, 2012 (AFP) –
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Egypt to keep open communication with Israel after the new Cairo government deployed forces to the Sinai Peninsula, the State Department said Thursday.
Clinton spoke by telephone Wednesday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr amid growing unease in Israel over President Mohamed Morsi’s deployment of troops in the Sinai, which was demilitarized under a 1979 peace treaty.
“This call was in keeping with a series of contacts that we’ve had in recent days with both Egyptians and Israelis encouraging both sides to keep the lines of communication open between them, to talk directly about any issues of concern,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
Clinton encouraged a policy that “first and foremost strengthens Egypt’s security but also has a positive impact on the security of neighbors in the region as a whole,” Nuland said.
Egypt sent troops into the Sinai to clamp down on extremist guerrillas who killed 16 border guards on August 5. Morsi has since exerted control over the powerful military, dismissing top officials, including the defense minister.
While Israel is also calling for a crackdown on extremists, the Maariv newspaper said Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted Egypt to withdraw tanks amid fears that the country would keep forces in the Sinai indefinitely.
In a message transmitted via the United States due to Israel’s lack of ties with Egypt’s new leaders, Netanyahu demanded that Egypt stop deploying troops without Israeli cooperation in line with the treaty, according to Maariv.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, hails from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is critical of Israel, but he has pledged to honor all of his country’s international treaties.