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US Tells Egypt Military Aid May Resume

Egypt announces its foreign minister will visit US, after Washington approves sending Cairo 10 Apache helicopters.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/24/2014, 12:08 PM

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy that Washington’s military aid to his country could resume, partly due to Cairo’s upholding of its peace treaty with Israel, the newspaper Daily News Egypt reported on Wednesday.

“Kerry was certifying to the Congress that Cairo was sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States,” and “upholding its obligations under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty,” the State Department quoted the readout of a phone conversation that took place between Kerry and Fahmy.

However, reported Al Arabiya, Kerry noted that he was not able to verify “that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition.”

Washington had imposed a temporary freeze on the delivery of major weapons to Egypt following the brutal crackdown on supporters of deposed president Muhammad Morsi by the military-backed authorities.

In January, Congress passed a bill allocating military aid to Egypt under certain conditions. These include Egypt holding a referendum on a new constitution, taking steps to support a democratic transition, maintaining its strategic relationship with the US, and fulfilling its obligations under the peace treaty with Israel.

On Wednesday, Egypt’s foreign ministry reported that Fahmy was travelling to the United States, a day after Washington decided to provide Cairo with 10 Apache military helicopters.

Fahmy is expected to meet officials in Washington and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon during his visit. He is also due to meet representatives of think tanks and will speak at a seminar in San Francisco, the ministry said, without specifying how long the trip will last, Agence France-Presse reported.

U.S. officials said on Tuesday Washington will provide Cairo with 10 Apache attack helicopters to strengthen Egypt’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called his Egyptian counterpart, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi, and informed him of the decision, according to a statement.

The timing of the US move may be linked to reports Friday that Cairo and Moscow have reached an initial agreement on implementing a new Russian arms delivery deal worth over $3 billion.

Egypt's defense minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is likely to become the new president, negotiated the agreement, aimed at replacing decreased assistance from Washington, during talks in Moscow last Thursday between Russian and Egyptian foreign and defense ministers.

Egypt will hold a presidential election on May 26-27, which former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – who deposed Mursi in July – is expected to win.