Egypt Independent

US congressional delegation to visit Cairo on Thursday



Former speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is arriving in Cairo on Thursday, heading a delegation of six democratic and republican congress members to Egypt, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Wednesday. 

The American delegation is expected to hold talks with senior officials from the military council and the government, including Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatny, added Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The visit comes as the two countries are attempting to assuage tensions over Egypt putting NGO workers on trial for allegedly accepting illegal foreign funds and operating illegally. The targeted NGOs include the US-based National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute and Freedom House.

Egypt lifted a travel ban imposed on 13 foreigners pending the trial and six Americans left the country. 

The NGOs say that they support creating democratic institutions around the world, denying that they intervene in internal affairs. 

Radio Sawa said that intensive dialogue between Cairo and Washington is ongoing to settle the matter. 

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will continue to support non-governmental organizations in different parts of the world.

Addressing US ambassadors from around the world who are in Washington for a conference, Clinton said, "When people feel safe and empowered to pursue their legitimate aspirations, they are more likely to reject extremism and to invest in their own societies."

Clinton noted that a number of governments, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, are curbing NGO activity and "challenging the propriety of American support for civil society organizations."

"I need each of you — and especially those of you operating in restrictive environments — to communicate our commitment to working with and supporting individuals and groups that represent not only what we believe are our values, but universal values: freedoms and human rights," she told the diplomats.