Members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood met with U.S. officials including White House staffers, the administration confirmed Tuesday.
“Following Egypt’s revolution, we have broadened our engagement to include new and emerging political parties and actors,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told POLITICO.
The Islamist group, long banned in Egypt by successive autocratic governments, has emerged as a powerful political force in post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt — but is also seen as a threat to secularism in the devoutly Muslim country. The group’s Freedom and Justice Party is set to control slightly less than half of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament. According to the Washington Post, the group is working on projecting a more moderate image on this visit to the U.S.
White House officials note that engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood is not a departure in policy, and previous administrations have met with Brotherhood members of Parliament. Further, the Obama administration’s U.S. ambassador and State Department officials have met with members of the group.
“The meeting Tuesday with working-level [national security staff] officials is just one in a series of meetings between US officials, members of Congress, and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Vietor said. “Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and others have met with members of the MB during their visits to Egypt, and US officials, as part of their routine diplomatic outreach, continue to meet with representatives as well.”