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Obama Releases Frozen Military Aid To Egypt

The White House says the U.S. is supplying Egypt with 12 F-16s, 20 Harpoon missiles and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits – delivery of which was suspended in 2013 after a military-backed coup ousted President Mohammed Morsi and cracked down on his supporters.

A White House statement also said President Obama directed the continued request of an annual $1.3 billion in military assistance, in the form of foreign military financing.

"The United States has had a decades-long strategic relationship with Egypt," the statement said. "Since the August 2013 Egyptian government crackdown, we have made clear our commitment to simultaneously pursuing our security interests and our support for meaningful Egyptian political reform."

The statement added that the Obama administration "will use the flexibility provided by Congress in legislation this fiscal year to provide additional military assistance to Egypt. The administration will not make the so-called 'democracy certification' in that legislation."

The statement added that beginning in 2018, Egypt will no longer use cash-flow financing to buy weapons. This is how The Washington Post describes that system:

"Under the mechanism ... Egypt can submit large orders for equipment that takes years to produce and deliver, under the assumption that U.S. lawmakers will continue to allocate the same amount in military aid year after year.

"Egypt — the only country besides Israel that is granted such a privilege by Washington — has effectively been given a credit card with a maximum limit in the billions of dollars, experts say."

The statement said beginning in fiscal year 2018, the U.S. will channel security assistance for Egypt to four categories: counterterrorism, border security, Sinai security and maritime security, and for weapons systems already Egypt already possesses.

Obama also spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a separate White House statement said. The two leaders discussed the military assistance as well as developments in Libya and Yemen, where Egpyt is part of a Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite Houthi rebels.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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