US congress minority leader meets Egypt military ruler

AFP and Ahram Online, Thursday 15 Mar 2012

Pelosi meets Tantawi on Thursday following Egyptian government's lifting of travel ban on US and foreign NGO workers

US congressional minority leader Nancy Pelosi met Egypt's military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, in Cairo on Thursday, after Egypt defused a crisis with Washington by allowing foreign and US non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers on trial to leave the country.

Democrat Pelosi and former House speaker is leading a delegation that was also scheduled to meet the Islamist speaker of parliament, Saad Al-Katatni. She is expected to give a press conference later in the afternoon.

Egypt's relations with Washington recently fell into crisis as the longtime US ally's military-backed authorities charged staff of the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute and Freedom House NGOs.

The groups, which are funded largely by the US government, promote the development of democratic institutions around the world and say that they do not back any particular candidates.

After pressure from Washington, Egypt allowed 13 foreigners from the groups, including six Americans, to leave the country on 1 March, after the trial judges recused themselves and a travel ban was lifted.

One American, Robert Becker, chose to stay in Egypt to face the charges.

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