White House denies U.S. is severing aid to Egypt

WASHINGTON (JTA) –  The Obama administration denied reports that “all military assistance” to Egypt would be cut.

A White House statement on Tuesday responded to reports by CNN and Reuters that the United States would sever the defense aid, currently about $1.3 billion,

“The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false,” said a statement attributed to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt in the coming days, but as the President made clear at UNGA, that assistance relationship will continue.”

UNGA refers to the United Nations General Assembly, which Obama addressed last month.

What was not clear in Hayden’s statement was whether all assistance to Egypt, which is currently about $1.5 billion, would be cut partially.

The Obama administration has come under pressure from some lawmakers in Congress to cut funding since a military coup unseated the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president, Mohamed Morsi, in July.

Other lawmakers have called on the United States to continue backing Gen. Abdel al-Sisi, the military ruler, in part because of his closeness to Israel and his pledge to maintain the 1979 Camp David peace accords.

U.S. law mandates a cut in assistance following coups, and Obama administration officials have been at pains not to use the word to describe Morsi’s removal.

Street confrontations between Egyptian troops and Brotherhood supporters and opponents since Morsi’s arrest have intensified.

According to U.S. officials quoted by CNN and Reuters, the resultant chaos and the military’s heavyhandedness led to the decision to cut aid.

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