WASHINGTON — The Obama administration gave a blistering review Tuesday of remarks that President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt made almost three years ago about Jews and called for him to repudiate what it called unacceptable rhetoric.
In blunt comments, the White House and State Department said Morsi’s statements were ‘‘deeply offensive’’ and ran counter to the goal of peace in the region. The State Department, noting that a senior congressional delegation is now visiting Egypt, said the remarks complicated efforts to provide economic and military aid to Egypt.
‘‘We believe that President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths and that this type of rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic Egypt,’’ White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Morsi was a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood in 2010 when, according to video broadcast last week on Egyptian television, he asked Egyptians to ‘‘nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred.’’ Months later, in a television interview, Morsi referred to Zionists as bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, describing Zionists as ‘‘the descendants of apes and pigs.’’
‘‘We completely reject these statements as we do any language that espouses religious hatred,’’ State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. ‘‘This kind of rhetoric has been used in this region for far too long. It’s counter to the goals of peace.’’
A group of senators, including John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Christopher Coons of Delaware, is in Cairo. Nuland said she expected they would make their views known to Egypt’s leadership.
Morsi’s remarks and the Obama administration’s rebuke marked a new point of tension in the complex relationship between the United States and Egypt’s fledgling democracy.
Since being elected in June 2012 in the aftermath of the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, Morsi has promised to abide by Egypt’s decades-old peace treaty with Israel. Morsi was also instrumental in facilitating a cease-fire in November between Israel and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, despite his refusal to speak directly with Israeli officials.
Eyes on comeback, Sanford set to run for Congress
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nearly four years after his affair with an Argentine woman was exposed, Mark Sanford, South Carolina’s former governor, plans to announce his return to politics and run for his old congressional seat.
His spokesman Joel Sawyer said the 52-year-old Sanford would announce his bid Wednesday. The former Republican governor said last month that reports he was planning a political comeback were accurate and he was in Charleston last week looking for office space for his campaign.
Sanford’s old First District seat is open. Its former occupant, Representative Tim Scott, was appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of Jim DeMint.
The two-term governor was seen as a possible contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009 to visit his mistress in Argentina. Reporters and others were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
When he returned to the state, Sanford confessed the affair. He later called Maria Belen Chapur his ‘‘soul mate’’ and the couple is now engaged.
The international affair ended any hopes Sanford had of running for president and destroyed his marriage, which ended in divorce from his wife, Jenny.
Jenny Sanford said Monday that, after considering the race, she will not seek the First District seat, saying being at home with her family was more important.
Obama’s swearing-in Sunday will be a small, private affair
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s private swearing-in Sunday will be a brief, sparsely attended ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office just before noon, the time the Constitution says Obama’s second term begins. Obama’s family will attend along with a few reporters, and Obama isn’t expected to make a speech.
The Constitution requires the president’s term to start on Jan. 20, but because that falls on a Sunday this year, Obama will have two ceremonies: one on Sunday and a larger, public ceremony on Monday, followed by a parade and inaugural balls.
Vice President Joe Biden will be sworn in during a separate ceremony Sunday morning at the Naval Observatory.