U.S. releases $575mln in military aid to Egypt

U.S. releases $575mln in military aid to Egypt

PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. has revealed it has released $575mln in military aid to Egypt that had been frozen since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi last year, BBC News reported.

The news came as Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo just two weeks after former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as president.

After talks with the new leader, Kerry stressed the importance of upholding the rights of all Egyptians.

Sisi won May elections, vowing to tackle "terrorism" and bring security. The retired field marshal overthrew Morsi last July amid mass protests against his rule. He has since been pursuing a crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which urged a boycott of the May 26-28 elections. Liberal and secular activists also shunned the poll in protest at the curtailing of civil rights.

State Department officials said the military aid was released to the authorities in Cairo about 10 days ago, after getting a green light from Congress. The funds - from the annual $1.5bn of chiefly military aid - will mainly be used to pay existing defense contracts.

The U.S. also promised it would provide 10 Apache attack helicopters for use by the army against militants in the Sinai peninsula.

"The Apaches will come and they will come very, very soon," John Kerry said at joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart.

In "candid" talks with President Sisi on a broad range of issues, Kerry "emphasized also our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association."

He also pledged that Washington would "stand with the Egyptian people in their fight for the future they want."

"For Egypt, this is a moment of high stakes and also a big opportunity," Kerry said, acknowledging that a number of promises by Egyptian leaders "are yet to be fulfilled".

"After three difficult years of transition, the United States remains deeply committed to seeing Egypt succeed," he said.

Kerry arrived in Cairo on an unannounced visit on Sunday, the most senior U.S. official there since the election.

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