CAIRO — US President Barack Obama has thanked Egypt’s leader Mohamed Morsi for securing the American embassy in Cairo during protests against an anti-Islam film, according to Morsi’s official Facebook page.
Morsi received a handwritten letter from Obama in which the US leader “presented his thanks to the Egyptian president for Egypt’s efforts to secure the US mission in Cairo.”
Obama also “stressed the United States’ rejection of the film offensive to the Islamic religion and offensive to the American values of freedom of faith and tolerance,” according to the site.
In the letter, Obama said he looked forward to working towards a “strategic partnership” with Egypt, Morsi’s page said.
US relations with Egypt, delicate since the fall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak, came under fresh scrutiny after a mob stormed the US embassy in Cairo and tore down the US flag on September 11.
The protest was sparked by a film made in the United States, mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed and portraying him as immoral and violent.
In the wake of the protest, Obama said Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy in an interview with Telemundo, which was seen by some observers as signalling a change in the relationship between the US and its traditional Middle East ally.
But Washington downplayed the notion of a major reframing of Egypt policy.
Egypt, after Israel, is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, and as it seeks to bolster Morsi’s effort to consolidate power against a rising challenger for extremists, Washington is weighing a deal with Egypt’s new rulers to relieve $1 billion worth of debt.