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Cablegate: Secretary Rice's Visit a Success in Eyes Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 004709

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: NA
TAGS: PGOV EG KPAO OVIP PREL
SUBJECT: SECRETARY RICE'S VISIT A SUCCESS IN EYES OF
HER AUDIENCE AND EGYPTIAN MEDIA

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Secretary Rice's visit to Egypt on
June 20 and her speech at the American University in
Cairo (AUC) led all Egyptian reporting, both in print
and on television. Coverage was generally positive,
with most commentators applauding what they perceived
as a less-aggressive tone both in the Secretary's
speech and in her comments at the press conference
with Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. However, several
commentators suggested Egyptians would dismiss the
Secretary's push for greater democracy, since U.S.

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democratic efforts in Iraq, in their view, have
failed. Members of the audience at AUC appreciated
the candidness and delivery of her speech, even if
they did not agree fully with the message. End
summary.

2. (U) Secretary Rice's June 20 visit to Egypt led
all Egyptian media reports. Pro-government
newspapers led with Secretary Rice's meeting with
President Mubarak, relegating her speech and her
meeting with reform-minded individuals to inside
pages. Opposition papers tended to highlight the
Secretary's speech and her comments at the press

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conference with Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit about
free and fair elections. All newspapers reported the
Secretary's comments that the U.S. would not meet

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with the Muslim Brotherhood.

3. (U) All newspapers published large excerpts from
the Secretary's speech, however no paper printed the
entire text of the Secretary's speech. Pro-
government papers tended to omit the segments of the
speech that addressed progress towards greater
democracy in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and the
Palestinian territories, while opposition papers
highlighted these segments. Opposition newspaper Al
Wafd (circulation: 70,000) carried a front-page
headline that quoted Secretary Rice as lauding the
Wafd Party for its contribution to Egyptian
democracy. Only independent Al Masry Al Youm
(circulation: 20,000) reported on a small protest in
Cairo on June 20 that called for an end to the
Mubarak presidency and suggested Secretary Rice take
a stronger stand on democracy in Egypt. (Note: The
protesters apparently chanted in English "Give him a
visa, Condoleezza," suggesting the Secretary take
Mubarak back to the U.S. End Note.)

4. (U) Newspaper columnists in the pro-government
press uniformly suggested Secretary Rice had adopted
a new, more conciliatory tone during her visit to
Egypt. A columnist in pro-government Al Ahram
(circulation: 800,000) theorized that Secretary
Rice's lack of "threats" may have been due to
frustrations in U.S. policy in Iraq and the harm the
violence there is doing to U.S. democracy efforts in
the region. The editor-in-chief of pro-government Al
Akhbar (circulation: 750,000) praised the Secretary's
comments during the joint press conference as
"balanced, diplomatic, and unprovocative." Al
Goumhuriya (pro-government, circulation: 500,000)
editor-in-chief claimed that Secretary Rice had
fostered a new atmosphere between Egypt and the U.S.
by "giving up on her arrogance and provocative
statements." He praised Secretary Rice for
highlighting Egypt's important role in the region and
for stating that the U.S. would not meet with the
Muslim Brotherhood. Opposition columnists generally
did not address the visit in the June 21 editions.

5. (U) All television talk shows discussed the
Secretary's visit, while her interview with Nile TV

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ran repeatedly in English and, again, with Arabic
subtitles. Orbit TV's "Al Qahira Al Youm" hosted a
member of the ruling National Democratic Party's
Secretariat, who described U.S.-Egyptian relations as

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"healthy" and said that Egyptians like America, as
demonstrated by their propensity to send their
children to university there. The program host, who
had attended the Secretary's speech, praised her
"new, soft tone," while Al Ghad party chairman Ayman
Nour and Al Wafd party member Mounir Abdel Nour
commented by phone on the Secretary's meeting with
reformers, emphasizing that they were invited to
attend as individuals and not as representatives of
their parties. Some guests on Channel One's "Malaf
Khas" and Nile TV's "Monday" programs suggested that
failures in the U.S.-designed democracy in Iraq are
hurting U.S. efforts to promote democracy in the rest
of the region. Meanwhile, a political analyst on
Nile News praised the Secretary's comments on Israeli
withdrawal from Gaza and her agreement that democracy
cannot be imposed on a society. Guests on several of
these programs rejected U.S. election observers
during upcoming Egyptian elections.

6. (SBU) In informal comments to PA staff, Mohamed
Abdul Hadi of Al Ahram newspaper commented that her
delivery was not as harsh as many Egyptians might
have expected a belief confirmed by the many
commentators who remarked on the Secretary's "softer"
tone. He said it left people with the impression
that the Secretary was not trying to impose a U.S.
ultimatum on Egypt. Many other journalists
appreciated her acknowledgement of America's own
rocky road towards full and free elections. Amr
Adeeb, host of the popular Orbit TV daily talk show
"Al Qahira Al Youm," pointed out that the applause
after her speech at AUC was much greater than that
which greeted her arrival.

7. (SBU) Likewise, audience members interviewed by
Embassy officers after the Secretary's speech at AUC
generally agreed that the speech was balanced and
well-delivered. Comments included:

-- "Excellent speech, liked it very much and the
candor with which it was delivered. I also liked her
answer to the issue of the desecration of the Quran."
(Aly El Samman, Secretary General of the Al Azhar-led
Interfaith Dialogue Committee)

-- "Overall a good speech and nothing out of what was
expected. She touched on all the points that we were
expecting her to touch on." (Dr. Mohamed Kamal, NDP
member, Shura Council)

-- "Secretary Rice's speech was excellent, but I was
hoping she would more directly address why the USG
would not communicate or work with the Muslim
Brotherhood (MB)....If the MB legitimately gained
power here in Egypt, would the U.S. support it? If
not, why not?" (unidentified attendee)

-- "I loved the speech. This is what we as a civil
society are looking for. The GOE will have to
comply knowing that the message is out there that
it was delivered in Egypt and with Egyptians hearing
it first hand. I have no doubt in my mind now that
the GOE will have to allow international observers,
or at the very least will not stop them when they
come." (Nasser Amin, Arab Center for the Independence
ce
of the Judiciary and Legal Profession)

-- "I thoroughly enjoyed the speech and the question-
answer session. My only criticism is that I feel
Secretary Rice should have been a bit tougher on

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pushing for democratic reform here in Egypt and that
she should have more strongly emphasized that Egypt
cannot be the exception to reform." (Moheb Zaki,
Senior Advisor, Ibn Khaldun Center)

8. (SBU) Comment. There is no question that the
Secretary had a positive impact on those who attended

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the speech. It should be noted that the audience was
heavily weighted with Embassy contacts, academics,
and others likely to listen with an open mind.
Attacks and criticism from the reactionary yellow
press and defensive nationalists are inevitable once
they have had time to digest the speech and devise
their responses. End Comment.

GRAY

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