US to retain close ties with Egypt's military, Panetta to soon call Sisi

News article, posted 08.15.2012, from Egypt, in:
US to retain close ties with Egypt's military, Panetta to soon call Sisi (Photo: AFP)

The US military expects to maintain close ties with Egypt's armed forces despite the dismissal of the country's powerful defense minister, a spokesperson said Monday.

"We had expected President [Mohamed] Morsy at some point to coordinate changes in the military leadership, to name a new team," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters.

"The United States and the Department of Defense in particular look forward to continuing a very close relationship with the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces)," Little said.

Morsy on Sunday retired Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, 76, and armed forces chief of staff Sami Anan. He also scrapped a constitutional document that gave the military legislative and other powers.

The Egyptian president replaced Tantawi, who had forged links with top American brass over decades, with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of military intelligence.

"The new defense minister is someone who's known to us, he comes from within the ranks of the SCAF and we believe we'll be able to continue the strong partnership that we have with Egypt," Little said.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "looks forward" to calling him "at the earliest possible moment," he added.

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