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U.S. makes 'good faith' economic aid package to Egypt

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Since toppling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi has proven to be a great disappointment. Morsi granted himself sweeping powers and there have been reoccurrences of the demonstrations and riots that preceded the ouster of Mubarak. Keenly aware of the situation, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released $250 million in economic aid - far less than the $1 billion originally promised.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Kerry is pointedly not releasing all of the $1 billion the Obama administration pledged to Egypt in May 2011.

There is an additional $260 million in budget support funds still pending. There is a further $550 million for scholarships and loan guarantees, in a separate tranche of money. Release of these funds is reliant on Morsi's following through on political and economic steps.

"The brave Egyptians who stood vigil in Tahrir Square did not risk their lives to see that opportunity for a brighter future squandered," Kerry said. "The Egyptian people must come together to address their economic challenge."
  
Kerry's announcement came after a series of weekend meetings in Cairo with a cross-section of Egyptians and a two-hour session with Morsi.

"When Egypt takes the difficult steps to strengthen its economy and build political unity and justice, we will work with our Congress at home on additional support," Kerry said in a written statement on the talks.

"In light of Egypt's extreme needs" and assurances by Morsi that he will take the steps necessary to obtain a major loan package from the International Monetary Fund, Kerry said the United States would provide the first $190 million of $450 million in already-promised support funds to the Egyptian government budget.

The U.S. will also provide $60 million in direct support for an Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund geared toward Egypt's entrepreneurs and fund a higher-education initiative to help students, especially women, earn undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and business.

Kerry said he was relying on Morsi's assurances that he would implement "homegrown" reforms to help secure agreement with the IMF and "put Egypt on the path to establishing a firm economic foundation and allow it to chart its own course."

Morsi "agreed and said he plans to move quickly to do so," Kerry said.

Washington, which is Egypt's leading ally, has concerns about free and fair elections, human rights, police conduct, clampdowns on nongovernmental organizations and other problems that beset Egypt's troubled transition to democracy.

"It is clear that more hard work and compromise will be required to restore unity, political stability and economic health to Egypt," Kerry said. "The upcoming parliamentary elections are a particularly critical step in Egypt's democratic transition."

Of course, of growing concern is the intensifying persecution against Christians and members of other religious communities in Egypt under the leadership of Morsi and the Muslim brotherhood. However, the Obama administration has said virtually nothing about this undeniable fact.

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