21 September 2012

Egypt: Foreign Minister Denies Official Threats to Cut Off U.S Aid

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Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr denied on Thursday 20/09/2012 receiving any threats at the official level to cut off US assistance to Egypt following angry protests over the anti-Islam film.

About reports on strong differences between the US and Egypt and the possibility of cutting off aid, the minister told reporters there is no problem in the two countries' relations.

"We all know that some protests took place outside the US embassy in Cairo but no deaths were reported. The protests were brought under control and this was very much appreciated by the American side".

The Minister said both the US ambassador to Egypt and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton contacted him to express their appreciation of Egypt's efforts to contain the protests.

Clinton, Amr said, promised over the phone that she will make every possible effort to guarantee that the US aid package to Egypt will be passed without any deductions.

Also, Amr said there was a meeting at the US Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and there was a strong directive among members to pass the US aid untouched.

But he unveiled attempts inside the Congress to reduce the US assistance to Egypt.

Minister Amr also stressed that the 1-billion-dollar additional aid package announced by US President Barack Obama in May of 2011 is proceeding well.

Asked about the veracity of reports claiming that the US has refused to extradite seven people involved in the anti-Islam movie, who had arrest warrants issued for them by the prosecutor general, Amr said he has no detailed information about the issue.

However, it is known for granted that the US would not hand over any holders of the US nationality, he said.

He said he also tackled over the phone with US State Secretary Hillary Clinton the freedom of expression issue, saying there was a thin line between the freedom of expression and the incitement of hatred.

"Your freedom ends where my freedom begins," he said.

Could Egypt possibly adopt calls for the UN General Assembly to issue a resolution condemning religion-based incitement, he responded that Egypt would support any resolutions that criminalize the defamation of religions.

The Egyptian embassy in Washington is currently making contacts with legal experts to seek action against the producers of the blasphemous film under US law, he said.

As for the date of the coming Islamic summit, he said it will be held in Egypt early next year but the exact date has not been set yet. Egypt will be the chair of the next Islamic summit, he noted.

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