White House Says U.S. Has Not Cut Off Aid to Egypt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Media reports that suggest the United States has cut off aid to Egypt are not accurate, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that the Obama administration is still reviewing its options.

“That review has not concluded and … published reports to the contrary that assistance to Egypt has been cut off are not accurate,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.

He said Obama was convening a meeting with his national security team on Tuesday to discuss Egypt and the review of U.S. aid to the country.

“I wouldn’t anticipate any major announcements related to our aid and assistance in the immediate aftermath of this meeting,” Earnest said, noting Obama holds such meetings regularly.

The Pentagon also denied reports that military aid had been cut off.

In recent years, Washington has authorized about $1.3 billion in annual military aid and $250 million in economic assistance for Cairo.

Earnest also said that Egypt’s detention of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie was not in line with the standard that the United States would hope to uphold in protecting basic human rights.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egypt’s army-backed authorities detained Badie, the Brotherhood’s general guide, in the wake of the bloody suppression of rallies demanding the reinstatement of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was toppled by the military last month.

Earnest said the aid review would take into account the actions of Egypt’s government, adding that violations of human rights “don’t make the transfer of aid more likely.”

Earnest’s comments on U.S. assistance follow media reports, citing an aide to the Democratic U.S. senator who chairs the subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, that the United States had quietly decided to suspend most military aid to Egypt, at least temporarily.

“The State Department and
Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee was told the transfer of military aid was stopped, that this is current practice, not necessarily official policy, and there is no indication of how long it will last,” the aide to Senator Patrick Leahy said in an emailed statement.

Earnest said the aid is under review but has not halted.

“Assistance is provided episodically. Assistance is provided in tranches,” Earnest said.