WASHINGTON Egypt's foreign minister on Wednesday rejected U.S. calls for the immediate repeal of its emergency law and said Washington seemed to be trying to impose its will on Cairo and that its political advice was unhelpful.
Asked if he viewed advice provided by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday as helpful, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the PBS NewsHour program "not at all," according to an interview transcript provided by the U.S. TV broadcaster.
Biden set out four steps the United States wanted Egypt to take, telling it to stop harassing protesters, to immediately repeal the emergency law allowing detention without charge, to broaden participation in a national dialogue to include more opposition members and to treat the opposition as a partner in devising a road map to end Egypt's political crisis.
Asked why he found this unhelpful, Aboul Gheit told PBS: "Because when you speak about prompt, immediate, now -- as if you are imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationship with the United States, you are imposing your will on him."
He also said he was astounded Biden had called for ending the emergency law as the government grapples with mass street protests now in their third week.
"When I read it this morning I was really amazed because right now, as we speak, we have 17,000 prisoners loose in the streets out of jails that have been destroyed. How can you ask me to sort of disband that emergency law while I'm in difficulty?" he said. "Give me time, allow me to have control to stabilize the nation, to stabilize the state and then we would look into the issue."
(Editing by Vicki Allen)