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U.S. slashes foreign aid to Egypt

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 7:48 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to its Mideast ally Egypt, responding to the military ouster last summer of the nation's first democratically elected president and the crackdown on protesters that has sunk the country into violent turmoil.

While the State Department did not provide a dollar amount of what was being withheld, most of it is linked to military aid. In all, the United States provides $1.5 billion in aid each year to Egypt.

Officials said the aid being withheld included 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of about $500 million, F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 tank kits and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. About $260 million in cash assistance to the government will be frozen until “credible progress” is made toward an inclusive government set up through free and fair elections. Delivery of four F-16 fighter jets was canceled.

In Cairo, a military spokesman, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, declined immediate comment.

Before the announcement, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian military leader, described his country's relations with the United States as “strategic” and founded on mutual interests.

But he told the Cairo daily, Al-Masry al-Youm, in an interview published on Wednesday that Egypt would not tolerate pressure, “whether through actions or hints.”

Neighboring Israel also has indicated concern.

The Israelis consider the aid to Egypt to be important support for the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

The State Department stressed that the long-standing partnership with Egypt would continue and that it sees the aid decision as temporary. Still, the decision puts ties between the United States and Egypt at their rockiest point in more than three decades.

The United States will continue to provide support for health and education and counterterrorism, spare military parts, military training and education, border security and security assistance in the Sinai Peninsula where near-daily attacks against security forces and soldiers have increasingly resembled a full-fledged insurgency.

The officials providing the details did so only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment by name.

Other details about what military assistance is being cut were not immediately known, and the State Department declined to give an indication of how severe the impact of the cuts in assistance might be in Egypt.

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