US readying $150 mn in aid to Egypt


Washington : The US is preparing up to $150 million in aid for Egypt as the country grapples with economic problems following protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.

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The money will be used to assist Egypt through a democratic transition and in the economic recovery following nearly three weeks of protests, Clinton said.

“It’s very clear that there’s a great deal of work ahead to ensure an orderly, democratic transition,” Clinton said.

“It’s also clear that Egypt will be grappling with immediate and long-term economic challenges. The US stands ready to provide assistance to Egypt to advance its efforts.”

Egypt is already one of the largest recipients of US aid, taking in about $1.5 billion annually – most of it in the form of military assistance.

Mubarak, a longtime US ally, resigned the presidency Feb 11, ending his 30-year rule.

US Undersecretary of State William Burns and senior White House adviser David Lipton will travel next week to Cairo to consult with Egyptian officials to identify possible uses for the money, Clinton said.

“These funds will give us flexibility to respond to Egyptian needs moving forward,” Clinton said.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Thursday that President Barack Obama in August requested a secret report from his advisers about unrest in Arab countries. It concluded that without major political changes the region was ripe for revolt.

Citing Obama administration officials, the newspaper reported the order, known as the Presidential Study Directive, identified Egypt as a possible flashpoint for unrest and sought ideas as to how the United States could push for reforms in Middle East countries who are valuable allies.

The study addressed what became the main challenge for the White House as the turmoil in Egypt developed, which was balancing US strategic interests in the region, avoiding greater instability while voicing support for democratic reforms sought by the protesters.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said last week that intelligence analysts had predicted that the lack of reforms could lead to instability but were unable to foresee what would “trigger” the unrest.