Cables show delicate U.S.-Egypt dealings

Jan. 28, 2011 at 9:09 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The United States has engaged in a delicate balancing act in its dealings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, leaked State Department cables indicated.

The Egypt-related communications, included in the 250,000-plus dispatches recently released by WikiLeaks, detail how U.S. diplomats raised concerns with Egyptian officials about jailed dissidents and bloggers, and tracked reports of torture by police, The New York Times reported Friday.

The Times was one of five newspapers that gained access to the cables from WikiLeaks.

The communications also indicated the relationship between U.S. leaders and Mubarak improved because President Obama avoided the "name and shame" approach of his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

A cable in advance of a 2009 visit to Egypt by Gen. David Petraeus said the United States, while frank in private, steered clear of "the public confrontations that had become routine over the past several years," the Times reported.

The cables, which span the first year of Obama's presidency, demonstrated how valuable Mubarak has been as an ally, detailing his backing of the United States in its dealings with Iran, his role as mediator between Israel and the Palestinians and his support of Iraq's fledgling government, despite opposing the U.S.-led war, the Times said.

Balancing behind-the-scenes pressure with public support for Mubarak has become stressed in recent days, with thousands of Egyptians protesting against the Mubarak government, and Washington has challenged the president publicly.

On Thursday, Obama praised Mubarak as a partner but said he must embrace political and economic reforms. In an interview posted on YouTube, Obama said violence wasn't acceptable.

"It is very important," he said, "that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances."

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