U.S. to ‘review assistance’ to Egypt


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States said it will review its assistance to Egypt in the wake of police violence against protesters.

"We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday, on the fourth day of protests in Egypt.

Egypt’s $1.3 billion in annual aid — most of it in defense assistance — is rooted in its 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Gibbs repeated calls to Egyptian authorities to end the violent crackdown and open up channels of information.

Gibbs would not directly answer a reporter at the briefing who asked whether President Obama "stands by" Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"This will be solved by the Egyptian people," he said. 

Also Friday, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the foreign operations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, said Egypt’s turmoil should be resolved "peacefully" and with Egypt as a strong U.S. ally.

Lowey, speaking after Mubarak appeared for the first time on TV since pro-democracy protests began Jan. 25, emphasized Egypt’s central role in keeping the region stable through its peace treaty with Israel.

"Ever since the historic Camp David peace accords more than 30 years ago, Egypt and the United States have been partners in seeking a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Lowey said.

She said Egypt should "move toward a more open society respecting individual freedom of expression and human rights. All parties must refrain from violence, and the Egyptian government must restore access to the Internet and social media."

She concluded that "It is in the interest of the United States and regional stability that this period of turmoil and uncertainty be resolved peacefully and that Egypt remain a strong ally."

In his TV appearance, Mubarak said he sacked his government, but warned protesters that his priority was to keep the peace.

"I will not be lax or tolerant, I will take all the steps to maintain the safety and security of all Egyptians," Mubarak said in remarks translated by Al Jazeera English.

President Obama spoke in Washington after Mubarak’s Cairo appearance and called on him to "turn this moment of volatility into a moment of promises."

Obama, who had just concluded a 30-minute phone call with the Egyptian leader, praised Mubarak, saying he "pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity."

He urged him to follow through with "a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom, of greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people."

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