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Egypt cancels meeting between Shoukry and Kushner after US withholds $290 million in aid Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Egypt cancels meeting between Shoukry and Kushner after US withholds $290 million in aid

Jared Kushner will still meet with Egypt's President Sisi, his office confirmed [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 August, 2017

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Egypt cancelled a scheduled meeting between its foreign minister and top US presidential adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday, after the United States withheld millions of dollars in aid.
A scheduled meeting between Egypt’s foreign minister and top US presidential adviser Jared Kushner was cancelled by Cairo on Wednesday, after the United States decided to withhold millions of dollars in aid.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was scheduled to meet the US delegation, led by Donald Trump’s son-in-law, in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the Middle East, but the meeting was cancelled immediately after the foreign ministry released a statement denouncing what it described as Washington’s “poor judgement” to withhold aid.

"Egypt sees this measure as reflecting poor judgement of the strategic relationship that ties the two countries over long decades and as adopting a view that lacks an accurate understanding of the importance of supporting Egypt's stability," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The decision could have "negative implications" on achieving common goals and interests between the two countries, it added.

A foreign ministry official confirmed the meeting had been cancelled but did not give a reason, Reuters reported.

However, a US embassy official in Cairo said Kushner's meeting with Shoukry had never been set in stone because "the schedule was never fixed."

Despite the cancelled meeting, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is scheduled to meet the US delegation led by Kushner later in the day, Sisi's office confirmed.

On Tuesday, Washington decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million because of its failure to make progress on respecting human rights and democratic norms.

The decision reflects a US desire to continue security cooperation as well as frustration with Cairo's stance on civil liberties, notably a new law that regulates non-governmental organisations that is widely seen as part of a growing crackdown on dissent, sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

US officials were especially unhappy that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in May allowed the NGO law to go into effect. 

Human rights groups and activists have said that it effectively bans their work and makes it harder for charities to operate.

The news will come as a major blow for the regime of Sisi, who first rose to power after staging a military coup against the country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi. 

Morsi is an Islamist affiliated with the now-outlawed group the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sisi was the first Arab leader to congratulate Donald Trump for his election victory, and has courted the controversial US president to forge a special relationship. 

Despite this and Trump praising Sisi repeatedly, Egypt has still been targeted for aid cuts, a major promise made by Trump over the course of his campaign.

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