| Updated at: 0259 PST, Friday, February 11, 2011|
WASHINGTON: The United States aims to prevent Egypt's transition from longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak's rule from being "hijacked by extremists," a top US diplomat told a key congressional committee Thursday.
"We want to make sure that the process is not hijacked by extremists or those who do not deeply believe in the open and tolerant and democratic process that we want," said Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.
Steinberg repeatedly sidestepped or deflected lawmakers' questions about whether Washington currently opposed a role for the Muslim Brotherhood opposition in a future government in Egypt, but said US policy would be to oppose any entities that reject what he described as core democratic values.
"We are actively working to make sure that the government that emerges is an inclusive, tolerant, democratic one that respects the rights of women, minorities, religious minorities and the like," he said.
"And anybody, any group that isn't consistent with that, we would not support their being a part of the government," said Steinberg, who stressed: "I don't think we single out any individual group."
The diplomat also praised Egypt's military for playing "a constructive role" in the country's turmoil thus far but urged them to resist any temptation to dictate the outcome of the political process.
"It is not for the military to make the government. It is for the people to make the government, and that's what we would expect. And we would expect as we move forward with a democratic, inclusive government that the military would be in service (of) that," said Steinberg.
And the diplomat assured nervous lawmakers that a democratic Egyptian government would be an asset to Washington's goals in the region.
"We believe very strongly that in terms of these interests, whether it's sustaining peace in the Middle East, dealing with terrorism, dealing with Iran's nuclear program that an open, vibrant Egyptian government would be very much in sync with those views and those perspectives," he said. (AFP)