WASHINGTON -- The White House issued congratulations to Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist candidate who on Sunday was declared the winner of last weekend's Egyptian presidential runoff election, but urged the president-elect to work with other parties and minorities in the fledgling democracy.
Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was named the victor of a contest that sharply divided the country and heightened tensions between Egypt's secular military leadership and the Brotherhood.
A statement from White House spokesman Jay Carney called the election a "milestone in their transition to democracy."
"We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States," Carney said. "We believe that it is important for President-elect Morsi to take steps at this historic time to advance national unity by reaching out to all parties and constituencies in consultations about the formation of a new government.
"We believe in the importance of the new Egyptian government upholding universal values, and respecting the rights of all Egyptian citizens -- including women and religious minorities such as Coptic Christians."
The statement said the U.S. intends to work with all parties in Egypt and praised election monitors for supporting "a free and fair election."
"We believe it is essential for the Egyptian government to continue to fulfill Egypt’s role as a pillar of regional peace, security and stability," Carney said. "And we will stand with the Egyptian people as they pursue their aspirations for democracy, dignity, and opportunity, and fulfill the promise of their revolution."
-- Kathleen Hennessey
Photo: Supporters of Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi celebrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square after the Muslim Brotherhood member was declared the winner of a runoff vote. Credit: Mohamed Messara / EPA