Egypt will have major role in Obama speech: US embassy

Salma El-Wardani , Wednesday 18 May 2011

Thursday address will hail Egypt's importance as a regional leader and the influence of its revolution on democratic movements

President Obama will focus on Egypt in a high-profile speech to be delivered on Thursday that will address recent developments in the Middle East and US policy in the region, Elizabeth Colton, spokesperson for the US embassy in Cairo has said.

"Egypt will figure prominently in this speech," Colton told Ahram Online, citing "the influence Egypt’s revolution has had in inspiring democratic movements in the region and the importance of Egypt as a regional leader".

Obama is expected to deliver a speech on the events in the Middle East and North Africa and US policy towards them on Thursday 19 May at 5:40pm Cairo time, according to the official website of the US embassy in Cairo.

An article published by the Wall Street Journal today reports that President Barack Obama is expected to announce a new aid plan for the Middle East and North Africa in his speech tomorrow.

US officials say the measures to be announced will be far bolder than previous American economic assistance to the region.

"Mr. Obama will outline the plan, which could include debt cancellation and a reprogramming of financial aid the US already provides to countries like Egypt," the article says. "The administration is looking at a mixture of direct aid, debt relief, and export credits to help stabilize Egypt's finances."

"There are a whole range of tools we could use," the Wall Street Journal quoted a US official as saying. "We've been looking for the right mix."

Colton couldn’t give Ahram Online further details on what kind of financial aid Obama is planning to announce for Egypt, or whether economic assistance might be politically conditioned.  

An Egyptian financial delegation, headed by Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation, Fayza Abul Naga, Minister of Finance, Samir Radwan, and the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, Farouk El-Oqda, visited Washington DC last month to discuss the possibility of debt relief.

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