Obama seeks to unblock US$450 mn in aid for Egypt

US President Barack Obama’s administration said Monday it is trying to convince the US Congress to unblock about US$450 million in economic aid for Egypt after Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger froze the funds.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed the US administration had asked Congress to free up the money in two installments to support the government of Mohamed Morsy, the first democratically elected president of Egypt.

“We are obviously going to have to work with the Congress in the coming days and weeks to explain why we think this money is so essential, why we think supporting the democratic trajectory of Egypt in a phased way is in US interests, because we obviously firmly do. And we will continue to work with the Congress on that,” said Nuland in a press briefing.

The money is part of a billion dollars in extra support pledged to Egypt by President Barack Obama last year. It is separate from $1.3 billion in military funding which Washington already provides to Cairo.

She added that the money comes as part of the promise made by Obama “more than a year ago when he pledged $1 billion in support from the American people to the people of Egypt if their transition stays on track and continues.”

Granger, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, said the administration's $450 million bailout proposal for Egypt was premature.

"This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the US-Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so," Granger said.

"I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance, and I cannot support it at this time," she said, adding that she had put a hold on the funds


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