Representatives of Islamist political parties from several Arab countries, including Jordan islamists, are in Washington for a conference Thursday. On the sidelines, they are holding meetings with U.S. officials.
Representatives of Islamist parties in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia and Libya are in the U.S. capital, against a backdrop of Islamist party popularity in the Middle East and North Africa.
Marina Ottaway, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, helped to organize the visit, as well as Carnegie's conference, called "Islamists in Power."
Ottaway said Islamist parties are emerging as major players in Arab countries that have held elections in the past year. And, she says, they are not well known in Washington.
"Whether or not we like it, whether or not this is a good thing, we will be dealing with these parties for many, many years to come, and therefore it is very important that we all get to understand them better and to know them better," she said.
To that end, members of the delegations also are meeting with U.S. officials. Ottaway says the Carnegie Endowment did not arrange the meetings but did provide contact information to U.S. officials who approached the organization.
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