Web Search powered by YAHOO! SEARCH
Dec 16, 6:42 PM EST

Spending bill lets preconditions on aid to Egypt to be waived for national security interests

Politics Video

Latest News
4,300-year-old pyramid discovered in Egypt
Women join fight against female circumcision
Cheap electronics threaten Egyptian repairmen
Security officials: Egypt's powerful intelligence chief replaced

Egypt President meets Qatari envoy for 1st time, signaling thaw in relations

Egypt security official says nearly 10,000 detained in crackdown on militants, rioters

Egyptian authorities crack down on gays, seeking to show 'morals' credentials, activists say

British Embassy in Cairo reopens for public services after closure over security concerns

Buy AP Photo Reprints

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration said Tuesday that it welcomes new flexibility in providing up to $1.4 billion in aid to Egypt, a close ally in the Middle East despite its recent sweeping crackdown on dissent.

The massive fiscal 2015 spending bill that Congress passed on Saturday includes a longer list of conditions for releasing aid to Egypt - the bulk in the form of military aid.

Those provisions, which aim to nudge Egypt down a path toward democracy, include holding free and fair elections, allowing peaceful assembly, due process for detainees and the release of American citizens held as political prisoners.

But unlike last year's spending bill, this year's legislation also includes a waiver allowing Secretary of State John Kerry to ignore the preconditions for national security reasons.

"Generally speaking, we welcome the flexibility that the bill provides to further our strategic relationship with Egypt and our national security interests," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday. "That said, there's been no policy decision with regard to our assistance program, which remains under review. And our concerns about Egypt's human rights record, which we speak about frequently, that has not changed."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., did not support the waiver.

"In conference negotiations with the House it was widely recognized that the direction that President (Abdel-Fattah) al-Sissi has taken the country, by turning away from democracy and imprisoning journalists and political opponents, is a mistake. The conditions on military aid, which are far more extensive than in 2014, convey that strongly," Leahy spokesman David Carle said.

"Sen. Leahy did not support it," Carle said, "and he hopes the secretary will not waive the law, as he believes that would send the wrong message to the Egyptian people and to the region as a whole."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.