WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is planning to provide Egypt with
$1 billion in debt relief, the Washington Post reported Sunday. The funds will go towards resuscitating the state after the recent uprisings and subsequent deposition of President Hosni Mubarak.
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The move is part of a larger aid package of incentives for commerce and investments. Cairo currently owes Washington $3.6 billion in pocured agricultural products but the state is in financial dire straits, and its government asked that the debt be shelved.
But Congress is engaged in a budget battle and Egyptian officials have expressed frustration with the cool response they received, the Post reported.
The US has already supplied Egypt with $150 million in emergency aid after the uprisings paralyzed its tourism industry. The aid was justified by a clause citing establishment of democracy and economic development.
The administration has also agreed to provide a billion dollars in loans, guarantees, and insurance for US firms willing to invest in the Middle East and North Africa.
In addition, Senators Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, and John McCain are currently promoting a bill to create an Egyptian aid fund the likes of those given to eastern European countries after the fall of the Berlin wall.
However the Washington Post quotes a Western diplomat as saying that the sums so far transferred to Egypt are miniscule. "We need a big scheme for helping Egypt and Tunisia. If things don’t turn out the right way in the region, the results could be very bad for all of us," he said.