US Assistant Secretary of State: We do not meddle in Egypt's internal affairs

Al-Ahram daily, Sunday 14 Aug 2011

Amid accusations of attempting to influence the upcoming elections, the US Assistant Secretary of State says the country draws the line at democracy-building training

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffrey Feltman

There are "differences in opinion" between the Egyptian and US government on a number of issues, confirmed United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman in an interview with Al-Ahram daily.

Yesterday, the US recalled James Beaver, the Egypt director of USAID, back to Washington.

The US government annually provides Egypt with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid through USAID, a US governmental organisation that finances development projects.

In recent weeks, the Egyptian government has unofficially accused the United States of meddling in internal Egyptian politics by financing activities of different civil society and non-governmental organisations.

Moreover, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s Cabinet has opened an investigation into unconfirmed reports that the US Department of State has been funnelling money into various new political parties and youth coalitions in order to influence the results of upcoming parliamentary elections.

However, Feltman told Al-Ahram that his government respects Egypt’s sovereignty and is ready to work with whatever political force Egyptians vote for in elections.

He added that the United States only provides training courses in democracy-building for Egyptians in order to facilitate the creation of a new, free society - not to determine the outcome of elections.

Finally, the assistant secretary said that the US will replace Beaver as head of USAID in Egypt as part of the routine reshuffling of American officials within the US Department of State, and not because of any stand-offish situations with the Egyptian government.

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