(AP) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he’s been given assurances by Egypt’s new president and its military chief that they will steer their country to full democracy.
Panetta is in Cairo, where he met for the first time with Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who assumed the presidency in June. Afterward, Panetta said it’s clear to him that Morsi is “his own man.”
He also had praise for the Egyptian military chief, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, saying his leadership has helped bring “peaceful, free and fair elections.”
He says both Egyptian leaders told him they will continue their country’s cooperation with the United States in fighting al-Qaida.
Panetta’s visit to Egypt follows one by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said yesterday that the jury is still out on whether Egypt’s Islamists political parties will equally represent non-Muslims.