U.S. approves 1.3 billion dollars in military aid to Egypt (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Natasha Mozgovaya and DPA 03/25/12)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the green light
Friday for U.S. military aid to Egypt despite concerns that Cairo was
not meeting goals in its democratic transition.
Clinton waived conditions placed by Congress on the 1.3 billion
dollars of aid - requiring Egypt to meet certain democratic reforms
before being granted the funds - saying the move was in the United
States´ national interest.
"These decisions reflect America´s over-arching goal: to maintain our
strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by
a successful transition to democracy," State Department spokeswoman
Victoria Nuland said.
Nuland pointed to progress made in elections but said the U.S.
remained concerned about protection for non-governmental
organizations and other issues.
"Egypt´s transition to democracy is not yet complete, and more work
remains to protect universal rights and freedoms. The Egyptian people
themselves have made this clear to their own leaders," she said.
Congress passed a law late last year that required Egypt´s military
rulers to support a transition to civilian rule, hold elections and
protect religious freedom in order to get the longstanding U.S. aid.
Clinton cleared Egypt for 200 million dollars in economic aid and
said it was meeting the conditions of its peace treaty with Israel.
Senator Patrick Leahy, who had been among the policy´s strongest
proponents after U.S. non-governmental organizations and their
workers in Egypt were harassed by authorities, expressed
disappointment in the State Department decision.
"Waiving the new conditions on democracy and human rights is
regrettable, and handing over the entire 1.3 billion dollars at once
to the Egyptian military compounds the mistake by dissipating our
future leverage," he said.
"Using this waiver authority, at this time, sends a contradictory
message. The Egyptian military should be defending fundamental
freedoms and the rule of law, not harassing and arresting those who
are working for democracy."
Congress had acted to step up pressure on Cairo after the offices of
the U.S. NGOs and other international groups were raided and workers
were temporarily kept from leaving the country. A trial in the case
is set to resume next month. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 03/25/12)
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