Egypt's first democratically elected leader is headed to New York for his first official visit to the United States, and Mohammed Morsi tells the New York Times that he envisions his nation and Washington could be "real friends," though he tacitly acknowledges real tensions exist at the moment. “Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” by propping up friendly regimes like that of predecessor Hosni Mubarak, he says, adding that the ball is in America's court to repair regional relations.
Morsi will be in town to attend the UN General Assembly, but he won't be stopping by the White House, which the Times notes had a chilly response to his request for a meeting with President Obama. Morsi earlier took heat from Obama for being slow to condemn attacks on the US embassy in Egypt, which he said he "could never condone, but we need to deal with the situation wisely." In a separate interview with state media picked up by al-Jazeera, Morsi addressed the Syria unrest, calling Iran "a main player in the region that could have an active and supportive role in solving the Syrian problem."