By Jamie Crawford
President Barack Obama offered a more cautious and nuanced take than in recent memory of the United States and Egyptian relationship following an assault on the American embassy in Cairo this week.
"I don't think that we consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said Wednesday in an interview with the Spanish language network Telemundo. "They are a new government that is trying to find its way," he said. "They were democratically elected."
Obama's comments were taken as a possible change in posture toward a country that has enjoyed billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic assistance since the signing of a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 – the linchpin of security in the volatile region.
"I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident," Obama went on to say in the interview. "I think it's still a work in progress. But certainly in this situation, what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our assistance that our embassy is protected, that our personnel are protected."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Sunday with the head of Egypt's military leadership, a day after she urged the country's first democratically elected president to "assert the full authority" of his office.
Clinton's meeting with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, held out of the view of reporters, came amid a political tug of war between President Mohamed Morsy and the military council that Tantawi heads.
Elise Labott assesses Hillary Clinton's diplomatic mission to Egypt following the secretary of state's meeting with the military.
From CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott
WASHINGTON (CNN) – For nearly three quarters of a century, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned from Egyptian politics and shunned by the West as a fundamentalist Islamic movement.
But this week the Brotherhood sent its first official delegation to Washington, meeting with high level administration officials.
The visit was part of a global goodwill tour to soften the group’s image and introduce its political faction, the Freedom and Justice Party, which emerged from the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak to capture nearly half the seats in Egypt’s new parliament.
“We are here to start building bridges of understanding with the United States," Sondos Asem, a member of the party's foreign relations committee and editor of its official English-language website, told students at Georgetown University. "We acknowledge the very important role of the United States in the world and we would like our relations with the United States to be better than before."