US aid suspension not a punishment, says Kerry

On his first visit to Egypt following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the suspension of aid to Egypt is “not a punishment.”

Kerry and Interim President Adly Mansour agreed in a meeting Tuesday that bilateral relations between the countries should not be reduced to aid.

Mansour met Kerry at the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace, along with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, US Ambassador David Satterfield and US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones, Al-Ahram reported.

Egypt is Kerry’s first stop on a 10-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.

According to presidential spokesperson Ehab Badawy, Kerry said that US President Barack Obama asked him to come to Egypt in light of the US interest in mending the relationship between the two countries.

Last month, Obama froze some military aid to Egypt as well as US$260 million in cash, due to the US administration’s concern over its commitment to human rights and democracy promotion. The decision heavily strained the relationship.

Egypt has received $1.3 billion in military assistance from the US on an annual basis since the 1979 peace accords with Israel.

The US also delayed the shipment of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

It has repeatedly expressed concern over the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood following Morsi’s ouster.

“The United States believes that the US-Egypt partnership is going to be strongest when Egypt is represented by an inclusive, democratically-elected, civilian government based on rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and an open and competitive economy,” Kerry told reporters during a press conference with Fahmy.

Kerry reviewed a number of measures the US is planning on taking which pertain to attracting foreign investment to Egypt.

Mansour said that Egypt believes in the importance of reevaluating the relationship with the US during this stage, referring to the negative impact on Egyptian public opinion.

He added that the international community is starting to become aware of acts of violence and terrorism in Egypt in the wake of the June 30 revolution, having previously had overlooked it.

Kerry said that the US appreciates Egypt’s security challenges and will contribute to helping it reach stability.

Kerry praised the steps taken so far in implementing the roadmap, adding that the US hopes that the remaining steps, namely elections, are held on schedule to restore bilateral relations.


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