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Karen Hughes after Meeting with PM Ahmed Nazif

Karen Hughes after Meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif

Karen Hughes, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Cairo, Egypt
September 26, 2005

(12:25 p.m. local time)

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you so much. Well thank you all very much. The prime minister and I had a very wide ranging and very productive meeting. We talked about the strong ties in the great friendship between America and Egypt. I praised the prime minister for his leadership here on economic reforms. I sought his advice on how we could work together to better improve our public diplomacy efforts and ties between the people of America and the people of Egypt. He told me that the most important thing he thought we could do is to invest in people.

The Prime Minister himself experience was participated in an American Exchange program. And he feels very strongly that those people to people exchanges. We met with this morning with some Alumni of those people to people exchanges and what I've heard here in Egypt is how important that people to people, that person to person eye to eye contact is in getting to better know and understand each other. And by the way two way exchanges, not only having Egyptians come to the United States which we want them to do but also have more Americans visit Egypt. He also, the Prime Minister also mentioned a number of American programs that are making significant contributions to people's lives here in Egypt. He talked about our micro-finance programs and some of our trade opportunities that are helping to create thousands of jobs here in Egypt. And it was a wonderful moment for me as an American to know that some of the money that the people of America are investing in partnership with Egypt is helping to create jobs for Egyptians. We also talked about the Presidential elections. Last night I was struck by the story of a of a young eighteen year old who said he had voted for the first time in Egypt's election and what a historic election it was because for the first time he was able to choose among candidates. We talked to the Prime Minister and I the need to build on that step as we head towards Parliamentary elections. To make them even more open. To allow the candidates greater access to the media and to have the presence of international observers here. And so to build on the steps that Egypt is taking toward democracy.

And in closing I also thanked the Prime Minister very much for Egypt's great leadership on Gaza disengagement. Egypt has continued in its role as a leader for peace and working on the Gaza disengagement. And we talked about our common hopes between Egypt and America that the people of Palestine will be able to have better opportunities and ultimately a Palestinian state where they can live side by side in peace and freedom with the people of Israel. And so it was a very productive meeting and I look forward to your questions.

QUESTION: Yes. In your meetings with the Prime Minister did you raise the Prime Minister Mubarak's pledge to lift the emergency laws and find out when they will be fixing those laws? And then in terms of the discussion about American programs they lose about a billion dollars in economic aid the U.S. gives Egypt. But much of that is tied -- it can only go to NGOs approved by the Egyptian government. If you actually try to get those kinds of restrictions lifted so that the money U.S. money can go to NGOs that are not sanctioned by the Egyptian government.

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: We did not discuss that latter issue. We talked about our aid to Egypt and about the Prime Minister's feeling that it is being spent in ways that does -- is having concrete results in helping Egyptian to citizens find jobs. I did raise the issue of going back to the Prime Minister -- the Prime Minister himself raised the issue of President Mubarak's reforms that he pledged to the people of Egypt as part of his presidential campaign. And he talked about that as a very important step. In fact a step he thinks the media had overlooked somewhat in cover of the Presidential campaign -- that President Mubarak did go out and campaign and did make pledges to the people of Egypt and he told me specifically about the emergency -- the promise to lift emergency law that that is something they plan to introduce in parliament, as parliament gets under way. And so he said all of those reforms it will take some time because some of them involve legal and constitutional changes. But that they have every intention of acting on the reforms that the President outlined during his campaign.

EGYPTIAN QUESTION: Yes. Some people they think that there's some sort of misunderstanding in the American and Egyptian or Islamic people. Just to involve this individual American in Islamic become a top priority? And to visit to understanding while you are here.

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I really say that my job which is public diplomacy is about people. It's about people and it's about our policies. Because I recognize that our policies have an impact on people's lives and I think I've learned as I've listened to people here that sometimes policy decisions that there are two sides to the coin. And you have one set of views in one place and a different set of views in another. Take for example the Palestinian issue. The goal of our United States policy in Palestine is that the Palestinian people might have the opportunity for a better life. That young people growing up in Palestine who -- that they have an opportunity to be educated and to have a job and to; I remember meeting with someone who told me how many Palestinian young people because they don't have an opportunity to have a job, don't feel that they can afford to be married and to have children, to have the experience of having children and families. And that's what we want for the Palestinian people. That is the goal of our policy.

I think when you hear sometimes the discussion of our policy here in the Middle East that's not the version that you hear but that is the goal of our American Policy is for the Palestinian people to have a state and to be able to live side by side in peace with Israel. That's the reason that we have the road map in place to try to lead to that solution. And as many of you know, President Bush is the first president in American history to publicly call for that Palestinian state.

And so the Prime Minister and I talked during our discussion about the fact that this can be a hopeful time that Gaza disengagement offers an opportunity for this to be a very hopeful time in progress towards the road map and in progress towards what we all want which is peace for Palestinians and for the Israelis. And I'm sorry that I have to leave but I have a meeting with Pope Shenouda that I've -- I understand that he is waiting for us and so we have to run out.

Thank you so much.


Released on September 26, 2005


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