In his first trip to Egypt since the military ousted the country's democratically elected president in July, Kerry said the US is a friend and partner to the Egyptian people and wants to contribute to the country's success. Kerry added US-Egypt relations should not be defined by assistance.
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Kerry made his comments Sunday in a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in Cairo shortly after the leaders met following the secretary of state's arrival on an unannounced trip to Egypt.
Kerry said the suspension of aid to Egypt is not a punishment and added that the US was acting in the spirit of a law that would require withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in assistance if the US had determined a coup had taken place in July.
Kerry said the topic was mentioned only briefly in his meeting with Fahmy and that he believed Egyptian authorities understood that rationale.
The US provides $1.5 billion in aid each year to Egypt. While the State Department did not provide a dollar amount of what was being withheld, most of it was expected to be military aid. A US official said the aid being withheld included 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of about $500 million.
The US decision to slash aid to Egypt creates new friction in Washington's already uneasy relations with the government that ousted the first democratically elected Egyptian president. And the consequences won't end there. The move will anger Persian Gulf states, push Egypt to seek assistance from US rivals and upend decades of close ties with the Egyptians that that have been a bulwark of stability in the Middle East.
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