Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, July 13, 2007

Egyptian officials react to U.S. Congressional delegation

One week after two U.S. lawmakers met with Egyptian officials, media representatives and parliamentarians and inspected Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, Egypt’s chairman of the People’s Assembly Foreign Affairs committee “hailed the visit as a unique occurrence,” according to Al Ahram Weekly.

“It was the fist time U.S. Congress members met with so many different people… I think they were eager to listen to a range of views, and this is especially important at a time when the U.S. press is painting a very negative picture of Egypt,” said the chairman, Mustafa El-Feki.

Two House members, Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Lincoln David (D-Tenn.), discussed initiating a parliament exchange program, the possible conditions on Egypt’s aid package and Egypt’s border control.

After visiting the border on July 3, McCollum told Al Ahram journalists that “the delegation’s visit to Rafah and Gaza left a very positive impact because it refuted charges that Egypt is not tough enough about smuggling weapons across borders.”

Egyptian officials emphasized their belief that annual U.S. aid to Egypt should not become a political tool.

“I think that some in Washington do not like Egypt’s position on Darfur or on Hamas in Palestine, and might be tempted into thinking U.S. aid can be a tool to change Egypt’s policies,” El-Feki said.

American aid to Egypt was initiated in an attempt to strike a balance between Egypt and Israel after the 1978 Camp David accords, according to Fathi Sorour, speaker of the People’s Assembly.

“Now, when [the] U.S. Congress conditions $200 million of that aid on what they call respect of human rights and the judiciary and on Egypt breaking up weapons-smuggling networks across the Egyptian-Gaza border, this clearly disrupts the balance,” Sorour said.

For the full article, click here.


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