WASHINGTON - The United States Congress budget committee has approved the US foreign aid budget for 2007 of USD 21.3 billion. The budget includes aid for Israel (USD 2.4 billion) and Egypt (USD 1.7 billion).
Both countries received the highest financial aid from the US since the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries at Camp David.
The move is the first of several steps scheduled to be voted on foreign aid budget at the Senate budget committee and at the plenum of both houses.
Approval for Egypt's entire aid was at risk since officials in Capitol Hill are disappointed at Mubarak's government for avoiding implementation of democratic reforms.
Additionally, the arrest of the Egyptian opposition member Ayman Nur contributed to the tense relationship between the US and Egypt and the military aid of USD 1.3 billion was reconsidered (USD 455 million in aid designated for civilian use).
Some committee members called on halting USD 200 million of aid money to Egypt until it proved that it has implemented the political reforms. The Republican majority however, voted against it, fearing it would tarnish relations between the two countries, especially since Egypt is considered to be the main ally of the US in the Arab world.
During committee deliberations it was also feared that Egypt may turn to Russia and China to purchase military equipment.