Egypt's Morsy tries to ease hateful Zionist remarks
CAIRO — Egypt's Islamist president sought on Wednesday to defuse Washington's anger over his past remarks urging hatred of Jews and calling Zionists “pigs” and “bloodsuckers,” telling visiting U.S. senators that his comments were a denunciation of Israeli policies.
Both sides appear to want to get beyond the flap: Mohamed Morsy needs America's help in repairing a rapidly sliding economy, and Washington can't afford to shun a figure who has emerged as a model of an Islamist leader who maintains his country's ties with Israel.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said a congressional delegation he led that met with Morsy expressed to him its “strong disapproval” about his 2010 comments. The delegation and Morsy had a “constructive discussion” about the remarks, he told reporters.
Still, despite calls by some in Washington to rein in aid to Egypt's Islamist-led government, McCain said the delegation will press in Congress for approval of some $480 million in new assistance to Cairo.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also in the delegation, warned that “the Egyptian economy is going to collapse if something is not done quickly.” He urged Morsy to finalize a repeatedly delayed deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan.
The flap was a new twist in Morsy's attempts to reconcile his background as a veteran of the Muslim Brotherhood, a vehemently anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. group, and the requirements of his role as head of state, which include keeping a strategic relationship with Washington.
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