WASHINGTON, June 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised Egyptian military for its support for a secure, free and fair election in Egypt, which was won by Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Morsi, the Pentagon said Monday.
Panetta telephoned Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, leader of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), twice over the weekend to express his desire for the Egyptian military to support a free and fair election, Pentagon spokesman George Little said, adding that "that's precisely what occurred."
Egypt's Higher Presidential Election Commission declared Sunday that Morsi won the presidential election, defeating former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.
Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke with his Egyptian counterpart Sami Hafez Enan on Monday, encouraging the military to support the political transition in Egypt, Little added.
"The tenor of these discussions has been to express a desire to encourage the Egyptian military to support the democratic process," said the spokesman.
On June 15, two days ahead of the Egyptian election, Panetta telephoned Tantawi to urge him to support a free and fair election in Egypt, a year after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday called Morsi to offer his congratulations, while expressing the desire "to advance many shared interests between Egypt and the United States" on the basis of mutual respect.
Washington used to maintain a close relationship with Egypt, which plays a major role in the Mideast peace process, when Mubarak was president. Egypt is the first Arab country that signed a peace deal in 1979 with Israel, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.
The United States, which provides Egypt with about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in aid annually, is worried that its relations with the most populous Arab country could be adversely affected by the Egyptian political changes and has taken a cautious stance on the victory by an Islamic leader.
"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," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.