U.S. Going Ahead with Delivery of Fighter Jets to Egypt
The United States plans to go through with the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks, despite the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, U.S. officials told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
The clarification came as Washington deliberated whether to call the ouster of Egypt's elected leader a military coup.
A decision to brand Morsi’s ouster a coup would, by law, require the Obama administration to halt aid to the Egyptian army.
One defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the delivery of the four F-16s was likely to take place in August.
"There is no current change in the plan to deliver F-16s to the Egyptian military," a second U.S. official told the news agency.
The White House has pointed out that millions of Egyptians had wanted a change in government and said it would wait before deciding how to describe Morsi's ouster.
"We are evaluating how the authorities are responding to and handling the current situation," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday.
The White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”
In February, Egypt received four F-16 aircraft from the United States, part of a group of 20 F-16s that are expected to be delivered to Egypt this year. They are part of the US$1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.
The jets were ordered by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood administration took over the inheritance before Morsi himself was ousted after days of protests calling on him to go.