Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry with Chairman of the House of Representatives’ armed services committee John McCain (Photo Courtesy of Egypt's foreign ministry spokesperson on Facebook)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with a group of US lawmakers and discussed American aid to the country and other bilateral issues during the third day of his visit to the US, Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.
In an official statement, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukry met with John McCain, the chairman of the House of Representatives’ armed services committee, where they discussed bilateral relations, with a focus on US’s economic and military aid.
According to the statement, Shoukry outlined to the American senator efforts by the Egyptian military to combat terrorism in Sinai, and the challenges and sacrifices made by the armed forces.
The US provides Egypt with annual military aid worth $1.3 billion.
In October 2013, the United States announced the suspension of its aid to Egypt in protest at the government's crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July the same year.
In March 2015, the Obama administration resumed US aid to Cairo despite its continuing "concerns" about Egypt's human rights record.
Abu Zeid added that Shoukry also presented Egypt’s vision on several regional conflicts, including Libya, Yemen, and the Syrian crisis, in particular the priority of dealing with the humanitarian side of the conflict.
In a separate meeting, Shoukry also met with Ed Royce, the chairman of the House’s foreign affairs committee. Abu Zeid said Shoukry answered the senator’s queries on the economic situation in Egypt and the recently drafted and controversial NGO law that and its effects on the activities of American NGOs operating in Egypt.
The law, passed by parliament last week, has been widely criticised; 22 NGOs and six political parties signed a statement saying that it would “end civil society” by putting it under the control of government and security bodies.
Shoukry explained aspects related to the Egyptian government’s economic and social reform programme to Royce and the recent deal between the government and the International Monetary Fund, saying that it was a sign of commitment by the Egyptian government to the adoption of a reform programme and to facing economic challenges and imbalances.
The Egyptian foreign minister also spoke about important decisions undertaken by Egypt, including a pardon for a group of youth prisoners convicted on several charges, and the outcomes of the national forum for youth in Sharm El-Sheikh.
“The recent decisions are a proof of the political leadership’s belief in the important and pivotal roles for Egyptian youth to execute the transition and development witnessed by society, as well as countering different challenges to help in getting out of the bottleneck,” the statement by the Egyptian ministry read.