Hagel: No US plans to cut off Egypt aid yet
28 August 2013, 14:17
Jerudong - Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday
that he opposes cutting off US military aid to Egypt but vowed Washington would
keep pressing for "reconciliation" in the country.
The United States earlier this month condemned Egyptian
security forces for firing on protesters backing ousted president Mohammed
Morsi, in a crackdown that left nearly 1 000 people dead.
"The interim government has to get back on the path to
reconciliation, stop the violence, put Egypt back on the path of economic,
democratic reform," Hagel said in an interview with the BBC aired
"Now do you do that best by cutting off all aid?
"Maybe eventually that happens, but I don't think you
can take that approach initially, you have to respond and we've made it clear
what we'd like to see happen," said Hagel, in Brunei for a meeting of
regional defence ministers.
Hagel did not rule out eventually shutting off the flow of
$1.3bn in annual military aid to Cairo, but he stressed the importance of
maintaining the decades-long alliance with Egypt, calling it a source of
stability that had reinforced US interests.
"We've had strong partnerships with Egypt for many
years starting with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that the US
brokered in 1979 that essentially prevented the region from breaking out into a
regional war," he said.
"Egypt has played a responsible part of that, been a
very responsible partner."
The United States "wouldn't necessarily agree with the
forms of government, the dictatorships, but... we would not want to see the
disintegration of a relationship with a large important country like
Egypt," he said.
Echoing similar remarks he made earlier this month, Hagel
said America's influence with Egypt had limits.
"So we've tried to help where we can, within the
boundaries where we can affect influence where we can," Hagel said.
"You can't go in and impose. It's up to the Egyptian people what kind of
future they want and what kind of government they want."