Arabs ready to cover cuts in foreign aid to Egypt: Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) - Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Arab and Islamic countries will step in to help Egypt if Western nations cut aid packages to Cairo over a crackdown on Islamist protesters.

"To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, (we say that) Arab and Muslim nations are rich... and will not hesitate to help Egypt," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

Prince Saud was speaking upon his return from France, where he held talks with President Francois Hollande, who strongly condemned violence in Egypt.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the North African country since security forces began a clampdown on Muslim Brotherhood protests last week.

US Senator John McCain called on Washington to suspend its US$1.3 billion (S$1.7 billion) in annual aid to Egypt's military after it overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi on July 3.

But some US lawmakers have expressed concern that cutting off aid could endanger the peace treaty with Israel or compromise US privileges with regard to the Suez Canal.

Foreign ministers of the European Union are to hold emergency talks on Wednesday to review the bloc's relations with Cairo.

At stake is nearly five billion euros (S$8.5 billion) in loans and grants promised by the world's top aid donor to Egypt for 2012-2013.