Panetta calls Egypt’s Tantawi


US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the head of Egypt’s ruling military council Field Marshal Tantawi Saturday to discuss the Egyptian constitutional court’s controversial ruling  to dissolve parliament, the Pentagon said.

“Secretary Panetta highlighted the need to move forward expeditiously with Egypt’s political transition, including conducting new legislative elections as soon as possible,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

“Field Marshal Tantawi reiterated the SCAF’s commitment to hold free and fair presidential elections as scheduled and to transfer power to a democratically elected government by July 1,” Little’s statement said.

“The two leaders agreed on the importance of the U.S.-Egyptian strategic relationship,” the Pentagon statement said. “Secretary Panetta underscored to Field Marshal Tantawi the need to ensure a full and peaceful transition to democracy and said he looks forward to working with Egypt’s newly elected government to advance our mutual interests.”