President Barack Obama congratulates Morsi on election win
President Barack Obama on Sunday called Egypt's president-elect, Mohammed Morsi, to congratulate him on his victory and offer continued US support for Egypt's transition to democracy.
Obama "emphasized his interest in working together with President-elect Morsi, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States," the White House said.
"Morsi expressed appreciation for Obama's call and welcomed US support for Egypt's transition," the White House said in a press release. Obama and Morsi also agreed to stay in close touch in the coming weeks and months.
In the turbulent aftermath of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011, the US is eager to salvage an alliance with Egypt that has been a foundation of stability in the Middle East since the late 1970s, ensuring peace between the Arab world's most populous country and Israel.
In his first televised speech, Morsi said Sunday he carries "a message of peace" to the world and pledged to preserve Egypt's international accords, a reference to the peace deal with Israel.
An earlier statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney alluded to the Obama administration's hope that the rise of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party will not set back Egyptian-Israeli relations. For all his faults, Mubarak was credited in Washington with resisting three decades of pressure within Egypt to break the Camp David accords with Israel or loosen its alliance with the United States.
"We believe it is essential for the Egyptian government to continue to fulfill Egypt's role as a pillar of regional peace, security and stability," Carney said.
The administration had expressed no public preference in advance of Sunday's announcement that the Islamist presidential candidate had defeated Ahmed Shafiq, who was the last prime minister under Mubarak.
Obama also called Shafiq on Sunday, encouraging him "to continue to play a role in Egyptian politics by supporting the democratic process and working to unify the Egyptian people," the White House said.
The Muslim Brotherhood's victory adds a new element of uncertainty for US policy in the Middle East, which has been rocked by the conflict in Syria, where some 40 people were said to have died on Sunday in new clashes between rebels and government forces.
The US provides about $1.3 billion annually in military aid to Egypt; the two countries regularly hold joint military exercises, and US Navy ships are frequent visitors to Egyptian ports.