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Cablegate: Codel Lincoln-Mccollum Meeting with Egyptian

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #2162 1921301
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111301Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6105

UNCLAS CAIRO 002162

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL EG
SUBJECT: CODEL LINCOLN-MCCOLLUM MEETING WITH EGYPTIAN
PARLIAMENTARIANS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary. A Congressional delegation comprised of
Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Lincoln Davis
(D-TN) met with Egyptian Peoples' Assembly Speaker Fathi
Surour and fellow members of parliament on July 2. Surour
and his colleagues were highly critical of USG bilateral and
regional foreign policy. He contended that opposition
parties in Egypt actively participate ) and freely criticize
) the Egyptian government. Both sides expressed gratitude
for the USAID funded parliamentarian exchange program which
facilitated the visit. No Muslim Brotherhood
parliamentarians attended the meeting. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Speaker Surour and fellow parliamentarians,
including Peoples' Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Mustapha El-Fekki and Al Wafd party leader Mahmoud
Abaza, hosted Representatives McCollum and Davis, and two
staffers, July 2 at the Peoples' Assembly. Surour agreed
with McCollum and Davis on the value of parliamentary
exchange programs, and spoke at length on foreign policy,
praising Egypt,s "positive role" in several crises (Iraq,
Lebanon, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and
criticizing USG policy, arguing that America has "created
problems" in Iraq, and "allowed" Iran to increase its
regional influence. According to him, the U.S.
administration has not done anything to solve the
Israel-Palestinian problem -- "the key to regional peace, and
stability in Egypt."

3. (SBU) Surour said that the 88 "independent" Muslim
Brotherhood members of the People's Assembly represent a
"trend we recognize" both in Egypt and regionally. He said
that Iranian support of Hamas is proof that Muslims are
united in spite of Shi,a-Sunni differences. On human
rights, Surour said that Guantanamo and other issues diminish
America,s standing to criticize Egypt. He complained about
President Bush's June 5 Prague speech, criticizing American
"fascination" with imprisoned Al Ghad Party leader Ayman Nour
and noted civil society leader Saad Eddin Ibrahim. People,s
Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mustapha El-Fekki
joined in this criticism, and added that conditioning USG
assistance on internal matters was a threat to Egyptian
"dignity."

4. (SBU) Surour introduced Al Wafd party leader Mahmoud Abaza
as the "opposition," and said that the two may argue but
respect each other,s viewpoint, and are free to criticize
each other. Abaza agreed, and then reiterated Surour,s
critique of USG foreign policy before making a vague call for
democratic reform, saying that Egypt ) with its long history
as a "centralized nation" - must adjust to modern notions of
democracy.

5. Representatives McCollum and Davis did not clear this
message.
RICCIARDONE

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