By Elise Labott
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met Wednesday with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the highest-level contact between the United States and the Egypt's largest Islamic group.
The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won more than 40% of the seats in recent elections and is expected to lead the country's first parliament chosen since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Burns' meeting with party chief Mohammed Morsi was an opportunity to reinforce U.S. expectations that Egypt's new government will support human rights, women's rights and religious tolerance and support Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.
The new parliament, which will be seated later this month, must appoint a panel to write a new Egyptian constitution.
A senior U.S. official said that in his meeting with Morsi, Burns discussed how the United States, World Bank and the rest of the international community can help Egypt's fragile economy rebound after last year's revolution.
"We want a long-term deep and broad relationship with a democratic Egypt and we will work with any government that is elected by the Egyptian people that strengthens democracy to help return economic growth to Egypt," the official said.
Burns' message to the Brotherhood was "we want to work with your government. We want a meaningful partnership that fully accepts your government and we want to work with you on your primary goal, which is economic development as long as we feel you are building a democracy that respects human rights and freedom and supports regional peace," the official said.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Morsi said his party "believes in the importance of U.S.-Egyptian relations," but said they "must be balanced."
Morsi called on Washington to review its policies toward the Arab world, which he said favored dictatorial regimes and proved "not in its best interest," in favor of positions which respected popular choice as reflected in the Arab uprisings.
Burns, who was in Egypt following a visit to Turkey earlier this week, met with other political groups but not Egypt's more radical Islamist Salafi al-Nur Party, which believes in the strict implementation of sharia law and which finished second in the election.
"It was not a matter of excluding them. He was not able to meet with all of the parties," Nuland said, adding that U.S. embassy personnel, including U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, has met with the group.