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The United States and Egypt are moving toward resolving an impasse over US-funded pro-democracy groups that has cast a shadow over Washington's security ties with Cairo, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
"We've had a lot of very tough conversations and I think we're moving toward a resolution," Clinton told a Senate panel, adding that she did not want to discuss details while the talks were ongoing.
US officials have warned that US$1.3 billion in annual aid for Egypt's military has been put at risk by the case, which has seen Egypt raid a number of non-governmental organizations and impose travel bans on a handful of US citizens.
43 defendants, including 19 Americans, are being tried for working for unlicensed NGOs that illegally received foreign funds. The Cairo Criminal Court has adjourned the hearing to 26 April.
On Monday, the US state department’s spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, “We’re continuing to work with the Egyptian government. I think the point that was made over the weekend is that we have been in intense discussions with all parties in Egypt about how we can resolve this, and we are very concerned and want to see it resolved in coming days.
“Assistant Secretary Feltman is, even as we speak, speaking to Egyptian Ambassador Shokry, he asked him to come in, and I would expect that we’ll have something further to say about that meeting after it concludes,” Nuland added.
International criticism has also escalated against Egypt over the case.
The European Union issued a statement expressing concern about the trial, while 17 former foreign ministers of various countries sent a letter to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, urging him to suspend the trial immediately.
The European Union’s statement on Tuesday condemned restrictions imposed on civil society organizations in Egypt, and affirmed the intention of the EU to monitor the legal proceedings against its citizens.
The statement also stressed the need for these organizations to continue playing a crucial role in the transitional period, as civil society is key to any democratic civilization.