US worried over Egypt's human rights record, welcomes easier aid conditions

Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Dec 2014

Washington offers new flexibility to the annual aid package of $1.4 billion to Cairo that has been offered for over 30 years

Jen Psaki
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki (Photo: Reuters)

The US State Department welcomed new conditions passed by the congress granting the secretary of state more flexibility to approve aid to Egypt, while expressing worry about the human rights situation in the country.

The appropriation bill for FY 2015, passed Saturday, allows the secretary of state to bypass a set of restrictive conditions on the assistance to Egypt for up to $725 million. The rest of the $1.4 billion allocated to Egypt this year is subject to "holding free and fair parliamentary elections, implementing laws or policies to govern democratically and protect the rights of individuals," according to the bill.

"We welcome the flexibility that the bill provides to further our strategic relationship with Egypt and our national security interests. That said, there has been no policy decision with regards to our assistance program, which remains under review," State Department's Spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.

Washington has given an annual aid package of about $1.5 billion to Cairo for over 30 years – $1.3 billion of which is in military aid – since signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Psaki also expressed concerns over Egypt's human rights record, stressing that it "has not changed."

In October 2013, Washington halted deliveries of large-scale military systems as well as $260 million in cash aid to the Egyptian military, amid concerns over the country's democratic transition and mounting violence following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

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