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Egypt, US celebrate delivery of F-16s

Egypt receives four out of 20 F-16 aircraft from United States; US ambassador stresses 'shared interests, mutual respect' between two countries

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Feb 2013
A United State Air Force F-16 jet fighter lands at the Aviano Nato airbase, in Aviano, Italy (Photo: AP)

The US Embassy in Cairo issued a press release on Sunday to announce the delivery of four new F-16 aircraft to Egypt's Air Force, following a joint ceremony Sunday to mark the deal.

“Today’s ceremony demonstrates the firm belief of the United States that a strong Egypt is in the interest of the US, the region, and the world,” the statement quoted US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson as saying. 

“We look to Egypt to continue to serve as a force for peace, security and leadership as the Middle East proceeds with its challenging yet essential journey towards democracy," the statement added.

Patterson said that the 34-year security partnership between the states is based upon "shared interests and mutual respect."

The delivery of four F-16 aircrafts comes as part of a 20-aircraft deal that will be finalised by the end of the year. Washington has delivered 224 F-16 aircrafts to Egypt until now.

Newly-appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Egypt is strategically important to the United States, especially because President Mohamed Morsi has continued to support the peace treaty with Israel, and has taken steps to overcome security challenges in the Sinai Peninsula, Kerry explained.

During a trip to Egypt in January, veteran Republican senator John McCain said Israel was in favour of continuing the aid, and the US should "listen to the Israelis."

However, in November he called on the Obama administration to withhold financial aid from Egypt unless Morsi responded to opposition demands and rescinded a controversial decree that was later reversed.

Since the 1979 Egyptian-Israel Peace Treaty, Cairo has been the second-largest recipient of US military and economic aid after Tel Aviv.

US President Barack Obama has requested almost $2 billion in aid for Egypt, about 80 per cent of which is for the military, and Congress seems willing to comply, for the time being at least.

"Egypt's adherence to its obligations under the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel requires ongoing US support for Egypt's economy," Democrat senator Chris Coon said during a recent trip to Egypt.

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