It was a meeting that not long ago would have seemed totally implausible. But Egypt's newly elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, has warmly welcomed America's top diplomat to Cairo for talks - and heard her affirmation of Washington's "strong support" for the change that had brought him to power.
For years the Islamist organisation, outlawed in Egypt under the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak, had been demonised by successive American administrations; while the Brotherhood regarded the US with suspicion, as an ally of repressive regimes across the Middle East.
On Saturday, however, President Mohammed Morsi declared to Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State: "We are very, very keen to meet you and happy you are here," and heard in return her promise of "the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition".
Leon E. Panetta, the United States defense secretary, said on Tuesday that President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt was “his own man,” a strong declaration of American support for Mr. Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood whose future course in Egypt remains a great unknown to the Obama administration.