Egypt's army ruler urges good U.S. ties after NGO raids

CAIRO Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:45pm EST

Egypt's ruling military council Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi smiles as he meets U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (not pictured) at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, February 11, 2012.  REUTERS/Khalil Hamra/Pool

Egypt's ruling military council Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi smiles as he meets U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (not pictured) at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, February 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Khalil Hamra/Pool

Related Topics

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's military ruler stressed the importance of good ties with the United States in a meeting with the government on Sunday, a message that could signal an attempt to ease a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists.

Nineteen Americans were among 43 foreign and local activists banned from travel and referred to criminal court on accusations of working for organizations operating in Egypt without proper licenses and which had received foreign funds illegally.

Washington asked Egypt to lift the travel ban on the U.S. citizens, some of whom have taken refuge at the U.S. embassy. Both the White House and Congress have warned that the crackdown could threaten Cairo's $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

In Sunday's meeting with cabinet ministers who have spoken out in public against foreign non-governmental organizations, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi emphasized "the importance of maintaining the established relationships between the U.S. and Egypt, and strengthening them," according to a statement.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abul Naga, Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr and the head of the Egyptian Intelligence Services Murad Mouwafi.

A source with knowledge of the meeting said Tantawi told his ministers to "strike a balance" in their public statements.

Tantawi discussed the case of the U.S. NGO workers on Saturday during a meeting with U.S. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first senior U.S. official to visit Cairo since the charges were brought.

An American student was also detained by Egyptian authorities on Saturday, along with an Australian journalist and their Egyptian translator, on suspicion they had distributed cash to workers and incited them to take part in a strike demanding an end to army rule.

(Writing by Marwa Awad; Editing by Alison Williams)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Boatie_bill wrote:
We are talking about 1.3 BILLION US tax dollars per year! For how many years? For that kind of money, I’d say what-ever you wanted me to say!

Feb 12, 2012 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Burns0011 wrote:
The military council and the government and the police are still in shock that the people they rule over actually wanted change. They’re afraid they’ll actually be held responsible for the bad things that have happened. So, like any narcissistic set of dictators, they’re attempting to put the blame on “other people” rather than accept it was their fault that people got fed up with the endemic corruption.

Feb 12, 2012 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.