White House officials held talks with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Washington this week, as the Islamist group threw itself into the fray in Egypt’s presidential election.
The meeting on Tuesday with low-level National Security Council staff was part of a series of US efforts to broaden engagement with new and emerging political parties following Egypt’s revolution last year, a US official said.
The White House pointed out that Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, and other US lawmakers and officials had also met with Brotherhood representatives in Egypt and elsewhere in recent months.
“We believe that it is in the interest of the United States to engage with all parties that are committed to democratic principles, especially nonviolence,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.
“In all our conversations with these groups, we emphasize the importance of respect for minority rights, the full inclusion of women, and our regional security concerns.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said on Saturday it would nominate Khairat al-Shater, a professor of engineering and business tycoon, to contest Egypt’s first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak last year.
The Islamists, who control parliament, had repeatedly said they would not put forward a member for the election in order to mitigate fears that they were trying to monopolize power.