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Clinton meets Egypt generals after urging transition

CAIRO--U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was Sunday holding talks with Egypt's top military leaders, just hours after calling for them to help smooth the country's full transition to democracy.

The top U.S. diplomat arrived in Egypt amid a complex power struggle being played out between the newly-elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

A day after her first meeting with Morsi, Clinton was to hold talks with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi — the country's interim military ruler after president Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year ending three decades in power.

Clinton has repeatedly called on the military to respect the outcome of the elections and told a news conference her talks with Tantawi would focus on “working to support the military's return to a purely national security role.”

Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, is locked in a standoff with the military after he ordered parliament to reconvene, defying an army decision to disband the house.

But a declaration issued by the SCAF before Morsi was sworn in — which acts as a temporary constitution — granted the military sweeping powers, including legislative control, even though they handed over to Morsi on June 30.

While Morsi's decree was applauded by supporters, it set off a firestorm of criticism from opponents who accused him of overstepping his authority.

Choosing her words carefully in the politically-charged atmosphere, Clinton said “it is very clear that Egyptians are in the midst of complex negotiations about the transition” including the make-up of parliament, a new constitution and the full powers of the president.”

“Democracy is hard,” she said. “It requires dialogue and compromise and real politics. We are encouraged and we want to be helpful. But we know that it is not for the United States to decide, it is for the Egyptian people to decide.”

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 25 killed as Syrian troops hit numerous rebel strongholds 
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before a meeting at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday, July 15. Clinton is holding talks with Egypt's top military leaders to press for the military to work with Egypt's new Islamist leaders on a full transition to civilian rule.

(AP)

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