Top 5 Issues from Hillary Clinton’s U.N. Meetings with Middle Eastern Leaders
On Monday, Clinton had sit-down meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Libyan President Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf and ended the evening holding talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The top issues discussed with these Middle Eastern leaders are:
1. Protection of U.S. Embassies
Just two weeks after angry protestors stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Morsi began the meeting by asserting Egypt’s commitment to protecting U.S. diplomatic missions and the Egyptian government’s duty to protect embassies, according to ABC News.
2. Military and Economic Aid to Cairo
Clinton reaffirmed the Obama administration's continued commitment to provide both military and economic aid for Cairo.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were close to a deal with Egypt's new government for $1 billion in debt relief to help Cairo shore up its ailing economy in the aftermath of its pro-democracy uprising, which ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.
3. Egypt’s Plan to Include Iran in Negotiations with Syria
According to ABC News, Clinton and her delegation were skeptical about Egypt’s plan to include Iran in any negotiations regarding the end of bloodshed in Syria. An official told ABC News that they would not dismiss Egypt’s initiative entirely, but said that the United States always has “concerns when Iran is engaged.”
4. “The Innocence of Muslims”
Egypt was among the countries swept by violent anti-American protests over an anti-Islam video made in California, and some U.S. lawmakers have raised questions about the future of U.S. assistance to the region, particularly given sharp budget constraints at home, according to Reuters.
The anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims,” which sparked global protests across the Muslim world, was brought up briefly in the meeting. But an the official told ABC News that Morsi understood the film was not a reflection of the U.S. government and acknowledged that it should not be used an excuse for violence.
Secretary Clinton’s meeting with Pakistan President Zardari, however, involved lengthy discussion of the video and the recent violence caused by the video.
Earlier this month, Clinton distanced the U.S. government from the anti-Islam film, saying, "We absolutely reject its content and message."
After they finished talking about the video, Clinton and Zardari turned to issues of counterterrorism, agreeing to support a joint counterterrorism working group that will meet throughout the year.
Later this week, Clinton will be meeting with the new leaders of Tunisia and Yemen.