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Defense Secretary Panetta visits Egypt to boost new PM

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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for a lightning visit to the longtime Middle East ally to reaffirm U.S. support for Egypt’s democratic transition, an AFP reporter said.

The Pentagon chief is due to meet Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, and newly elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

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“In the past year, I’ve maintained very close contact with Field Marshal Tantawi. My message has been consistent. We strongly support an orderly, peaceful, legitimate transition to a democratic system of government,” Panetta told reporters accompanying him shortly before landing in Cairo.

Panetta is visiting Cairo two weeks after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the Egyptian capital.

His trip comes amid a tense power struggle between the military, which held power after the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, and the president, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

For the first time since the ouster of the monarchy in 1952, Egypt’s head of state has not emerged from military ranks.

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But Panetta praised the way the then ruling military handled the elections which brought Morsi to power.

“The SCAF’s show of support for a secure, free and fair presidential election last month is a critical step in this process,” he said.

Panetta will also meet Morsi and “urge the Egyptian government to continue the transition to full civilian rule to provide for as broad a coalition as possible within the government.”

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“The Egyptian people should be proud of the progress that has been made on the road to democratic transition. I’m looking forward to meeting with President Morsi,” he said.

Washington insists that the new leadership respect peace accords concluded with Israel, and has expressed concern over security problems in the Sinai peninsula.

Israel has repeatedly called on Cairo to improve security in the lawless region with which it shares a border, as does the Gaza Strip.

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Panetta’s Middle East tour will also take him to Israel and Jordan.

[Leon Panetta image via Agence France-Presse]


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USA mystified by ’15 Donald Trumps’ jibe at Rugby World Cup

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USA coach Gary Gold said he was mystified by a comment from England's Eddie Jones that the Eagles would play like "15 Donald Trumps" when they meet at the Rugby World Cup.

"I've absolutely no idea what he means by that," Gold said, ahead of Thursday's game in Kobe.

"We're just a team that's really got to focus on our own processes at the moment. We've got to worry about what we do when we get onto the rugby field.

"At this stage, with all due respect, we're not a good enough rugby team to be making comments or answers to questions like that. I don't know what it means."

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‘Absolutely disgusting’: Trump slammed for trolling Greta Thunberg climate speech

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US President Donald Trump stirred up fresh outrage on social media Monday with a tweet mocking an impassioned speech made by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg at the UN climate summit in New York.

Her voice shaking with emotion in an address that was the defining moment of the summit, Thunberg accused world leaders of betraying her generation by failing to act on rising emissions, repeating the words "how dare you" four times.

"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones," she said. "People are suffering. People are dying."

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Pulitzer Prize-winner reveals why the White House thinks Trump’s Ukraine scandal ‘can be spun as positive’

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Despite the growing movement for impeachment, advisors to President Donald Trump believe the bombshell reports about soliciting foreign election interference from Ukraine can be "spun as a positive" for the president's 2020 re-election campaign.

Ashley Parker, a White House reporter for The Washington Post, was interviewed about the thinking of Trump's advisors by MSNBC's Steve Kornacki on Monday.

"This is a White House, a Trump White House, that is used to being under siege. There was of course the two-and-a-half-year saga with the Mueller investigation culminating in the Mueller report, Mueller’s testimony recently. There have been a million other controversies, flare-ups, moments when the White House was forced to defend a comment from the president, allegation against the president, these sorts of things," Kornacki noted.

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