Mohamed Morsi is Egypt's first Islamist president
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, seen here in July, will visit the United States on September 23, state television reported. © Mark Wilson - AFP
Mohamed Morsi is Egypt's first Islamist president
AFP
Last updated: August 22, 2012

Egypt's Morsi to visit the US on September 23

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, the country's first civilian and Islamist head of state, will visit the United States on September 23, state media reported on Wednesday.

The official MENA news agency quoted Morsi's spokesman Yassir Ali as saying the president will attend a United Nations General Assembly session in New York and then head to Washington to meet "senior officials" during a three-day trip.

But Ali told AFP a meeting with US President Barack Obama "is not yet confirmed."

"Morsi will visit the United States on September 23," the state-owned Nile News television said in a news alert.

Morsi became the country's first freely elected civilian president on June 30, and the first head of state since a popular uprising overthrew veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in February last year.

Under Mubarak, Egypt was one of Washington's closest regional allies, and still receives $1.3 billion in mostly military aid each year.

Relations between the two countries underwent their worst crisis in decades after Mubarak's overthrow when Egypt placed dozens of NGO workers, including Americans, on trial on charges of receiving foreign funds.

Egypt, under US pressure, eventually released the activists.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Morsi in Cairo in July, almost two weeks after his inauguration, throwing her government's weight behind the Islamist president.

But more recently, the United States said it was "very concerned" about freedom of the press in Egypt after authorities decided to place two anti-Morsi journalists on trial.

"We are very concerned by reports that the Egyptian government is moving to restrict media freedom and criticism in Egypt," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on August 16.

The two journalists, television station owner and host Tawfiq Okasha and Islam Afifi, the editor of the small circulation Al-Dustour, are charged with trying to incite Morsi's murder and promoting public disorder.

The United States had levelled similar criticisms at its close ally Mubarak in the years before his overthrow, but maintained the close relations which were anchored in a US-brokered 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Egypt has tested parts of the treaty, which restricted its military presence in the Sinai neighbouring Israel, as it moves in tanks and troops to quash Islamist militants in the peninsula.

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