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U.S.: No Decision Yet on Freezing Aid to Egypt

State Department says it has yet to make a decision on whether to freeze assistance to Egypt, says the matter is being reviewed.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/20/2013, 12:14 AM

Egypt demonstrations
Egypt demonstrations
Reuters

The United States said on Monday it has not yet made a decision on whether to freeze economic assistance to Egypt.

The State Department said that a review by the Obama administration of all U.S. aid to Egypt is currently underway.

"We have not made a policy decision to put a blanket hold on the economic support fund," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a briefing, according to Reuters.

She added later that the review also applied to military and security assistance to Egypt.

"That review is ongoing, and includes military assistance, security assistance and also includes economic assistance," she added. "We are going to abide by legal obligations and will make adjustments as needed in the future."

Psaki said U.S. funding for non-governmental agencies would not be affected regardless of whether the U.S. imposed restrictions on aid.

Also on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Washington was doing its best to stabilize the situation in Egypt, but admitted that there was only so much the U.S. could do.

“Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited,” Hagel said. “It's up to the Egyptian people. And they are a large, great, sovereign nation.”

Hagel reiterated the call last week by President Barack Obama for dialogue and a cessation of violence.

The White House has thus far been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi a “coup.”

Under U.S. law, a country in which a military coup has taken place cannot receive military aid from the U.S.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have called on the Obama administration to cut off the aid the U.S. provides to Egypt, saying that “Not all coups are created equal, but a coup is still a coup.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on Monday that Israel is mounting a diplomatic effort to assist the military-backed government in Egypt to retain U.S. and international backing.

Israel plans this week to intensify its diplomatic campaign urging Europe and the United States to support the government in Egypt, the Times wrote, quoting “a senior Israeli official involved in the effort” who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Israeli ambassadors in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and other capitals will be lobbying foreign ministers, the official said, as leaders in Israel will press the case with diplomats from abroad, “that the military is the only hope to prevent further chaos in Cairo.”