Khairat el-Shater
Khairat el-ShaterReuters

A group of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood officials are in Washington this week, meeting with U.S. officials, in an attempt to present a “moderate” face to a group that has a reputation as being intolerant of Jews and Christians, and opposed to Western influence in the Middle East, an Egyptian media report said.

At a meeting Tuesday, Muslim Brotherhood representatives of the Freedom and Justice Party met with several officials of the National Security Administration. The meeting was at the initiative of the Americans, who are seeking to build relationships with the new political parties in Egypt that have emerged since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The White House said that in recent months top U.S. politicians, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, had met with Muslim Brotherhood groups around the world.

On Monday, Army Radio reported, a U.S. Congressional delegation met in Cairo with Khairat el-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for president of Egypt. According to the report, officials said that the meeting was not related to el-Shater’s presidential candidacy. The delegation, headed by Republican Rep. David Dreyer, wanted to hear from el-Shater his positions regarding issues of human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law.

In a statement, National Security Agency spokesperson Tommy Vietor said that “we believe that it is in the interests of the United States to form a relationship with all political parties that are committed to democracy, and especially to non-violence. In all these meetings we stress the importance of respecting the rights of minorities and women, as well as regional security issues.”

Channel 10 reported Wednesday night that an Israeli delegation had visited Egypt last week, and discussed the possibility of doubling Egyptian exports to Israel via the joint economic development zone that includes Israel, Egypt, and the U.S. The rules of the zone require that Israel participate in the manufacture and sale of Egyptian goods shipped to the U.S. without duties and customs payments.