Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Egyptian General Intelligence Chief and Foreign Minister Head to Washington DC
US Secretary of State John Kerry with officials from the military-backed Egyptian
government in Cairo during November 2013.
Ahram Online, Wednesday 23 Apr 2014

Nabil Fahmy and Mohamed El-Tohamy are both due in Washington DC to meet top US officials as the Obama administration eases a freeze on aid in place since October 2013

The head of Egypt’s General Intelligence, Major General Mohamed El-Tohamy, is scheduled to hold a closed meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State John Kerry, according to the official US State Department website.

News of El-Tohamy's visit to the US capital comes less than 24 hours after the Obama administration said Tuesday it had certified that Egypt is upholding its 35-year-old peace treaty with Israel and therefore qualifies for some military and counterterrorism assistance.

Once Kerry issues that certification, the US can resume other military and civilian assistance programmes halted following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The news of El-Tohamy's trip comes at the same time it was announced in Cairo that Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy was heading imminently to the United States to discuss bilateral relations as well as the latest regional and international developments.

Official foreign ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel Atti said in statements to the media earlier Wednesday that Fahmy would visit Washington DC and San Francisco. Abdel Atti said that the foreign minister would in Washington DC meet US officials as well members of the US Congress and Senate. He added that Fahmy would then meet members of the Egyptian community in San Francisco.

Last Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called his Egyptian counterpart, Major General Sedki Sobhy, informing him that the US Congress would soon be negotiating to restore financial aid.

The official US Department of Defense website detailed the call transcript in which Hagel informed Sobhi of US President Barack Obama's decision to deliver 10 Apache helicopters in support of Egypt’s counterterrorism operations in Sinai.

However, an unnamed US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that no other military aid beyond the Apaches was being freed up yet.

According to Reuters, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Egypt's foreign minister that his country cannot yet certify that Egypt is taking the necessary steps towards a democratic transition. He urged Egypt to ease restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and the media

Bilateral relations between Egypt and the US have been fragile since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

In October 2013, Washington withheld from the Egyptian government deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles, as well as $260 million in cash aid, saying it was putting a halt to the aid pending progress in the areas of democracy and human rights.

No comments: