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US releases half a billion dollars of suspended aid to Egypt

US releases half a billion dollars of suspended aid to Egypt
 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri upon his arrival in the capital Cairo June 22, 2014. Photo by AFP
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri upon his arrival to Cairo. Photo by AFP

CAIRO, June 22 (Aswat Masriya) The United States has released about $575 million of the suspended funds to Egypt over the past 10 days, Reuters reported an unnamed State Department official as saying.

The United States froze some of the $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt following the military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year, which was prompted by mass protests against his rule.

It also withheld deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as $260 million in cash aid pending Egypt’s progress on democracy and human rights.

The released funds will be used to pay existing defence contracts, the State Department official said.

Washington has also said it will provide 10 Apache attack helicopters to help soldiers battling burgeoning militancy in the Sinai peninsula.

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Sunday to hold talks with Egypt’s new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which is the first high ranking American official visit since his inauguration.

The United States has said it looks forward to working with Sisi’s government but also expressed concerns over widespread human rights abuses and limits on freedom of expression.

“The Obama administration said that the remaining funds, which require congressional approval, will be released once there is evidence that Sisi’s government is ruling in truly democratic fashion.”

Egypt declared the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” in December in response to a wave of violence that followed the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July, which was denied by the group that said it continued to abide by peacefulness.

Meanwhile, “The United States does not believe that the Muslim Brotherhood posed a security threat to Egypt and had seen no information that substantiated a link to terrorist groups,” the official said, adding that the United States had asked Egypt to share the evidence.

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Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy. en.aswatmasriya.com

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