All signs point to John Kerry making a stop in the Middle East on his first official trip as the top U.S. diplomat. Among the countries that he may visit is Egypt, where protests have triggered lawmakers to again question U.S. aid.
Every year, the United States provides $1.3 billion in military aid and some $250 million in economic aid to Egypt. But last year, Congress introduced a measure that requires the secretary of state to certify that the country is taking steps toward establishing democracy before aid funds can be released.
Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee said “at a minimum, we need to have strings attached” to any U.S. funds to Egypt, Bloomberg reports. Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, meanwhile, suggested redirecting some military aid to economic aid.
Kerry is expected to make his first trip as secretary of state mid-February, a U.S. official told CNN.
After taking the oath of office on Friday, Feb. 1, Kerry spoke with a number of foreign officials. Among those were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Kerry talked about the Obama administration’s commitment to pursuing “lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” Kerry also pledged to work with Congress to release budget support for the Palestinian Authority in his talk with President Mahmoud Abbas.
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