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Egypt's parliament speaker tells US counterpart aid cut might undermine mutual ties

Ahram Online , Thursday 2 Nov 2017
An archival for Egypt
An archival for Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal (Photo: Al Ahram)
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Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal warned Washington on Thursday that a cut to its financial aid package to Cairo may undermine mutual ties between the two close allies at a time when US support for Egypt's fight against terrorism is needed.

Abdel-Aal made his remarks during talks in Washington with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other American lawmakers.

"Cutting US aid to Egypt doesn't only reflect differences of opinion between both countries over some issues, but it also harms these relations," Abdel-Aal was quoted by Egypt's state news agency MENA as saying.

"This gives an impression that [relations] are suffering a great deal of instability at a time when the United States should back Egypt in its fight against terrorism."

The US has been providing Egypt with foreign aid, including military assistance, since Cairo's 1979 peace deal with Israel.

Each year Egypt receives approximately $1.3 billion in US military aid, as well as about $250 million in economic assistance.

The US said in August it would withhold part of its upcoming annual aid package to Cairo, with $195 million to be held in reserve until the US "can see progress on democracy" in Egypt.

Cairo said at the time that the move was not in line with the strategic relations between the two allies, and that cuts could have “negative repercussions” in achieving their common interests.

During the talks, Abdel-Aal also discussed a new Egyptian law regulating the work of non-governmental organizations.

Rights groups have criticized the legislation, saying it has effectively banned their work.

The senior lawmaker noted that the law, which was introduced in May, is primarily aimed at ensuring that funds given to NGOs "won't be directed to financing terrorism."

Abdel-Aal further proposed setting up a US-Egyptian friendship association to boost bilateral parliamentary cooperation and address points of contention between the two countries over issues of mutual interest.

The two sides also looked at ways to promote greater US investment in Egypt in light of a new law introduced by Cairo which aims to ease the process of doing business in the country.

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