Egypt: Hillary Clinton's Remarks 'Interference In Internal Affairs'

Egypt Slams Clinton For 'Interference In Internal Affairs'

(Repeats, editing first paragraph)

CAIRO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The Egyptian foreignminister said on Wednesday that Egypt would not accept anyinterference in its internal affairs, in response to criticismby U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the way securityforces dealt with women protesters.

In a speech on Monday, Clinton criticised the actions ofEgyptian security forces as showing the "systematic degradation"of women that "disgraces the state", some of the strongest U.S.language used against Egypt's new rulers.

Footage showed Egyptian soldiers beating protesters withbatons, often after they had fallen to the ground, in whatactivists described as a forcible attempt to clear a sit-indemanding a swifter transfer to civilian rule. The clashes sinceFriday have left at least 13 dead and hundreds wounded.

"Egypt does not accept any interference in its internalaffairs and conducts communications and clarificationsconcerning statements made by foreign officials," the state newsagency quoted Foreign Minister Mohame d Kamel Amr assaying.

"Matters like that are not taken lightly," he was quoted assaying, in his response to a question about Clinton's remarks.

A video of Egyptian soldiers dragging a woman protester onthe ground by her black full-body veil, exposing her bra, thenclubbing and kicking her has sparked outrage. Thousands marchedon Tahrir square on Tuesday to condemn the attacks.

Activists have called for a major protest on Friday todemand an apology for the attacks on women.

The United States, which saw deposed leader Hosni Mubarak asa staunch ally, gives Cairo $1.3 billion a year in military aid,a commitment that began after Egypt in 1979 became the firstArab state to make peace with Israel. (Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing byAlison Williams)

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