CAIRO — Secretary of State John F. Kerry released $ 250 million in badly needed economic assistance for Egypt on Sunday, telling the country’s divided political classes that they must make economic and political reforms to qualify for additional U.S. support.
The announcement followed a more than two-hour meeting Sunday between Kerry and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, which the State Department said covered the crisis in Syria and prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, as well as the chaotic domestic situation in Egypt, whose uncertain future is closely tied to American aims for the region.
Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party called Kerry’s visit a good-faith effort to ease the political impasse between the ruling Islamists and the secular opposition. “This is an important visit that we believe is motivated by the U.S. resolve to deal with the legitimate constitutional status quo in Egypt,” Morsi spokesman Amr Darrag said.
In a statement released after the meeting, Kerry said that during his two-day visit, he had met with political leaders, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organizations, who “shared their deep concern about the political course of their country, the need to strengthen human rights protections, justice and the rule of law, and their fundamental anxiety about the economic future of Egypt.”
Kerry said that he discussed those same issues with Morsi “in a very candid and constructive manner” and that the two talked about the need to ensure that Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections are “free, fair and transparent.”
Amid some questioning from Congress about Egypt’s political instability and the U.S. budget crunch, some $ 450 million in U.S. aid to Egypt has been frozen in Congress. In addition, the International Monetary Fund has held off on loans and debt relief worth more than $ 4 billion.
Kerry noted that President Obama had pledged $ 1 billion in U.S. support for Egypt’s democratic revolution in May 2011, following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak after three decades of rule. To encourage entrepreneurship, he said Sunday that the United States was launching the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund, with an initial installment of $ 60 million. That could increase to $ 300 million in coming years, Kerry said.
Kerry said the United States also is working to increase Egypt’s exports to the United States. And he said Washington would fund a higher education initiative “to help students, especially women, earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and business.”
After assurances from Morsi that he plans to continue to work with the IMF, Kerry said the United States also would provide the initial $ 190 million of a pledged $ 450 million in budget support funds, to help spur economic reform.
“The United States can and wants to do more,” Kerry said in the statement. “When Egypt takes the difficult steps to strengthen its economy and build political unity and justice, we will work with our Congress at home on additional support. These steps will also unlock much-needed private-sector investment and broader financial assistance.”
» Kerry: US to Release Millions in Aid to Egypt Alex Jones ...U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington will provide Egypt with immediate financial aid because of the nation’s “extreme needs.”
» Kerry: US to Release Millions in Aid to Egypt Alex Jones ...
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