FM denies strained relations with US

Relations with the US are normal following protests outside the American Embassy, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said during a ministry press conference Thursday, adding that Sinai is an internal affair.

He said that US-Egypt relations were not strained following the recent protests against the anti-Islam film, "Innocence of Muslims" made in the US.

"There have been no problems between Cairo and Washington after what happened at the US Embassy in Cairo, especially as the Egyptian security apparatus was able to control the situation, and the American side appreciated that," Amr said.

The minister's statements contradict reports that relations between the two countries are strained following the Embassy attack last week.

Amr said that the US administration has "clearly expressed that it would continue to offer [financial] aid to Egypt at the same levels as it had previously."

In response to a question about whether Washington refused to hand over those accused in Egypt of producing the film, he said he did not know the details but that "it is well-known that … the US does not hand over suspects of American nationality [to other countries]."

He stressed that Egypt would support any Islamic or Arab effort to persuade the UN or the International Council for Human Rights to criminalize blasphemy and the contempt of religion.

Amr also insisted Sinai security is a sovereign affair, following reports that appeared in privately owned Al-Fagr newspaper alleging Israel sent a complaint to the UN Security Council about deteriorating security in the peninsula.

"We have already made the situation clear and we consistently do so to all parties … Sinai's security is an internal affair that should not be discussed in international forums or by the UN Security Council. The council discusses cases that affect international peace and security."

Regarding the conflict in Syria and Iran's support for Bashar al-Assad's administration, Amr said Egypt does not "barter" with Iran on the restoration of relations.

"We told them they were part of the Syrian crisis and contributing to solving it would lead to improving their image and relations, not only with Egypt, but with other countries in the region," he said.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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