Skip to main content


Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 3 May 2011

I am in regular contact with Secretary Clinton about the whole situation in the middle east. I met her most recently at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Berlin on 15 April.

It is feared in some quarters that the deal brokered in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah is influencing America’s attitude to the new regime there. Has the Foreign Secretary had an opportunity to hold any discussions about that with his American counterpart? In particular, has he discussed the future of aid for Egypt and of assistance with the delivery of free and fair elections in the near future?

I believe the United States to be supportive of what the interim Government are doing in Egypt. Everything that I saw yesterday suggested that we should be supportive, as did the meetings that I had with Field Marshal Tantawi and the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Egypt. They are trying to bring about a transition to democratic government in Egypt, but they face formidable economic problems, which I think will pose the most difficult challenge of all during the coming year or two. It will be very important for western nations to engage with the Government of Egypt and work together on their economic future, and I have received no indication that the United States is planning to do anything other than that.

The Foreign Secretary has hit on the issue of the change and why it came about. That change swept across the whole of the middle east, but the economy and jobs were a key issue in Egypt in particular. What steps has the Foreign Secretary taken, and what discussions has he had with his United States counterparts, to ensure that something constructive will happen, and will happen soon?

As I have said, we discuss these issues with the United States all the time, and President Obama will be coming to this country in a few weeks. The future of change in the middle east and how we should support that change—and Egypt is at the heart of that, for the success of the change there will be a key determinant of what happens in other countries—will be at the forefront of our discussions with President Obama and, indeed, the discussions at the G8 summit which will follow his visit.