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The US State Department is in talks with the Congress to unblock US$450 million of economic aid promised to Egypt, as part of $1 billion in debt relief to assist the transition to democracy, according to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.
“We feel very strongly that now is not the time to pull back from supporting these fragile democracies in North Africa and the Middle East. It’s time to support those who are trying to take their countries in a democratic direction,” Nuland said during a press conference Tuesday.
Nuland said that Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions William Taylor is speaking with members of Congress.
“Ambassador Taylor, who is the Secretary’s envoy for assistance to North Africa, [is] talking to Hill staff about the request, about how it fits into our overall strategy of supporting the democratic transition in Egypt — those conversations, obviously, are continuing.”
Nuland said Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides had made a phone call with Representative Kay Granger, who had earlier blocked the planned aid, to discuss the issue.
Observers link opposition to the aid by some lawmakers to the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo in September, when protests flared in response to an anti-Islam amateur film made in the US.