Egypt criticizes Washington for cutting some of its military aid. Foreign Minister meets Kushner after previously cancelling the meeting.
By Elad Benari – Arutz Sheva
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Wednesday met with the U.S. delegation headed by presidential adviser Jared Kushner, AFP reported, after the meeting had earlier been dropped with no explanation.
Speculations arose that the meeting may have been originally cancelled due to Egyptian dissatisfaction with Washington’s decision to freeze some of its military aid.
On Tuesday, sources in Washington said the United States has decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million due to Egypt’s failure to make progress on respecting human rights and democratic norms.
Shoukry’s spokesman confirmed the U.S. delegation met with the Egyptian Foreign Minister. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi also met with the delegation, his spokesman Alaa Youssef told AFP.
The presidency and foreign ministry, in statements after the meetings, said the talks focused on efforts to boost bilateral ties and reviving Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace talks, without mention of the aid cuts.
But the foreign ministry said earlier that Cairo “regrets the decision” to reduce some funds allocated under a U.S. assistance program and withhold the disbursement of other military aid.
The State Department confirmed that it had denied the sums to Egypt because of concerns over its human rights record.
Ties between the U.S. and Egypt were strained under former President Barack Obama but had appeared to improve after President Donald Trump took office.
In 2013, shortly after Sisi and the Egyptian army ousted then-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Obama suspended American military aid to Egypt. He released the aid two years later.
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a “coup” and had been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
Trump’s relationship with Sisi got off to a good start when they met last September in New York while Trump was running for president.
After Trump’s election, Sisi praised the new president and said he expected greater engagement in the Middle East from his administration.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Sisi hailed Trump and said he has a “true understanding” of the realities in the region when it comes to terrorism.