Monitoring Bush (a followup)

A followup to an earlier post about the visit of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Washington this week, in the wake of a government crackdown against democratic political activists in Egypt:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday expressed “very strong concerns” about Egypt’s jailing of opposition leader Ayman Nour and said she wants the situation resolved quickly.

She made her comments at a State Department news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit following their first formal talks since Rice took office three weeks ago.

An Egyptian court on Feb. 1 remanded Nour, a member of parliament, in custody for 45 days on allegations he forged documents to set up the Ghad (Tomorrow) Party. The party says the aim of the arrest was to intimidate reformers.

“Yes, I did raise our concerns, our very strong concerns, about this case,” Rice told reporters.

She said she talked with Aboul Gheit “at some length about the importance of this issue to the United States, to the American administration, to the American Congress, to the American people.”

“And I expressed our very strong hope that there will be a resolution of this very soon,” she added.

That seems a little stronger than the usual polite diplomatic language, and it’s a good first step. Now let’s see what the Egyptian government does or doesn’t do, and how the US responds to that.