US holds out possibility of restoring aid to Egypt
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States, though dissatisfied with Egypt's progress toward reinstating a democratic government, is holding out the possibility of restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt if its Mideast ally moves toward free and fair elections.
At stake: a sizable portion of the US$1.5 billion (S$1.88 billion) the US provides Egypt each year. Much of the aid is in military equipment, and at least a quarter-billion in cash assistance to the Egyptian government and US$300 million in a loan guarantee are also now in limbo.
The State Department made clear on Wednesday that the decision to freeze the aid was not permanent and it could be restored if "credible progress" is made toward setting up an inclusive government in the wake of the military coup that overthrew the elected if unpopular government of President Mohammed Morsi.
In Cairo, military spokesman Col Ahmed Mohammed Ali declined to comment on the announcement. Before the announcement, Gen Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Egyptian military leader, described his country's relations with the United States as "strategic" and founded on mutual interests. But he told the Cairo daily Al-Masry al-Youm that Egypt would not tolerate pressure, "whether through actions or hints." The Egyptian military set up an interim government after Morsi's ouster, which came after massive anti-Morsi demonstrations in July. Military crackdowns against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters have left hundreds dead amid ongoing turmoil and soured US-Egyptian relations.