WASHINGTON - The United States and Egypt
are negotiating a package of assistance to address what administration officials described as a worsening security vacuum in the Sinai Peninsula,
the New York
Times reported Sunday.
Egypt under Mohammed Morsi's
leadership is ready to discuss the proposed aid after previously rejecting it for fear it would appear to undermine its sovereignty.
Discussions between the Pentagon and Cairo's military leaders began following last week's terror attack
According to the report, the Pentagon is discussing a variety of options for sharing intelligence with Egypt’s military and police in Sinai.
Egyptian troops in Sinai (Photo: AFP)
They include intercepts of cellphone or radio conversations of militants suspected of plotting attacks and overhead imagery provided by aircraft — both piloted and drones — or satellites, the officials said. The parties also discussed assistance in equipment and training of border police.
Since the Israel-Egypt 1979 peace treaty,
the US has been providing Egypt with security aid amounting to $1.5 billion a year. In recent years, questions were raised in Congress as to the purpose of Egypt's procurement of aircraft and tanks.
Since 9/11, the Bush and Obama administrations have been trying to convince Cairo to purchase 21st century military equipment and partake in the war on terror.
Hosni Mubarak rejected the proposals. Washington officials now hope that in the wake of the attack on Egyptian forces in Sinai, Egypt will come on board and fight terror.
Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
visited Egypt in the hopes of persuading President Morsi and Egypt's military leaders to take action against terror in Sinai, but were not successful. Last week's attack led Cairo to change its stance.