Will the United States cut aid to Egypt and cancel its planned debt relief plan for the country?
Talks on the debt relief plan and other proposals to speed up disbursement of aid to Egypt have reportedly “stalled” following last week’s violent protests across the Middle East and North Africa, including in Egypt.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will reportedly meet with lawmakers to provide a full assessment of the events that transpired in recent days. The lawmakers want to know “what measures we took at the time, what measures we’re taking going forward to continue to protect our personnel and our facilities,” State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing Monday (Sept. 17).
The schedule and details of the meeting have yet to be announced, but may take place Thursday (Sept. 20), according to Reuters.
U.S. aid to Egypt, which amounts to $1.3 billion annually, including some $250 million for economic assistance, will likely be discussed at the meeting. Early this year, the same aid package was put into question following a row between the Egyptian government and U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups. Some cases against these pro-democracy advocates are still pending before the Egyptian court.
The proposed $1 billion debt relief plan for Egypt may also be a hot topic at the meeting. U.S. officials were hoping to close the deal by end of this month. But “U.S. and other officials said those discussions are now likely to drag on through the fall,” The Washington Post says.
It is not clear how the violent demonstrations, which led to the deaths of four U.S. embassy officials in Benghazi, Libya, will affect the $800 million MENA fund included in the Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2013. But with the recent violence in countries that are supposed to benefit from the fund, the administration might find it hard to gain approval from some members of the House Appropriations Committee, especially those who have initially voiced their reservations over the fund, according to Reuters.
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