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Protests stall US move to aid Egypt: report

19 september 2012, 11:21
0
©AFP
©AFP
The protests that erupted in Cairo over an anti-Islam Internet video have stalled talks on relieving $1 billion worth of Egyptian debt to the United States, AFP reports citing the Washington Post.

The debt relief was intended to provide crucial economic aid to Egypt's newly elected government as it grapples with daunting economic challenges in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

But the Post on Monday cited US officials as saying Egypt can expect little relief -- at least until after the November 6 US presidential vote -- after Cairo's delayed response to last week's violent protest outside the US embassy in Cairo and as similar demonstrations continue across the region.

"Folks are going to wait and see how things materialize both with the protests and on Capitol Hill," it quoted a congressional aide as saying.

The Post said the delay was likely to be temporary, and that there was no major reconsideration of US aid to Egypt, which amounts to some $1.5 billion per year.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had earlier told reporters that the administration was working with Congress on aid to support "forces of moderation, change, democracy (and) openness in Egypt."

Egyptian forces were slow to react when demonstrators attacked the US embassy last Tuesday, scaling the walls, tearing down the American flag and hoisting a black Islamist flag in its place.

US President Barack Obama called his newly elected Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi to express concern about the incident and told an interviewer that Egypt's new government was neither an ally nor an enemy.

Egyptian security forces later moved in, clashing with the demonstrators for several days but keeping them away from the embassy.

And Morsi, a former top member of the Muslim Brotherhood, later said he supports peaceful protests against the offensive video but condemned violence against diplomatic facilities or personnel.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Washington was considering a plan to relieve $1 billion in debt to help Egypt.

Cairo has also asked for a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, which in turn urged economic reforms.

The embassy protests and the growing regional unrest have strained relations between the United States and Egypt, which under Mubarak had assisted with US-led Middle East peace efforts and other regional initiatives.

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