US to consider resuming halted military aid to Egypt, Trump says

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 21.09.2017 10:40
Updated 21.09.2017 10:42
US President Donald Trump speaks before a meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly September 20, 2017 (AFP Photo)
US President Donald Trump speaks before a meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly September 20, 2017 (AFP Photo)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signaled he would consider resuming military aid to Egypt which had been frozen because of concerns over its human rights record.

The U.S. government last month decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million over human rights concerns.

Asked if he would restart military aid to Egypt, Trump told reporters as he began a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: "We're going to certainly consider it."

Egypt had been furious over the U.S. decision to freeze $195 million in military aid in response to Egypt's poor record on democracy and civil liberties.

The decision, made earlier this year, came as a surprise because Trump had pledge strong ties with the key U.S. ally after they deteriorated under Barack Obama.

On Aug. 27, sources said the Trump administration decided to "reprogram" $65.7 million in fiscal year 2017 Foreign Military Financing funds and $30 million in fiscal year 2016 Economic Support Fund funds. "Reprogramming" means these funds would be used for other purposes and would not go to Egypt.

The administration made a separate decision to withhold $195 million in fiscal year 2016 Foreign Military Financing funds which, had it not acted, would have expired and ceased to be available at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

These sums are relatively small in comparison to U.S. aid flows to Egypt historically. According to a March 2017 report by the bipartisan Congressional Research Service, between 1948 and 2016 the United States gave Egypt $77.4 billion in bilateral foreign aid, including $1.3 billion a year in military aid from 1987 to the present.

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