WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration moved closer to a decision Tuesday on continuing or curtailing $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt amid the crackdown by military authorities there on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said a National Security Council discussion was to take place Tuesday afternoon. Cabinet members including Secretary of State John Kerry were to participate, and some elements of U.S. economic and military support for Egypt could be suspended, according to U.S. officials. Those officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the meeting.
The administration has insisted that it has made no final decision on halting assistance to Egypt since the military's July overthrow of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-led government, the suspension of the Egyptian constitution and the crackdown on Islamist demonstrations.
Almost 1,000 people have died in the past week. President Barack Obama and his advisers have been seeking a way to express U.S. displeasure while maintaining what little influence Washington still has with its formerly stalwart Arab ally.
So far, Obama has opted against any swift reaction, insisting it would not serve U.S. national interests to suddenly eliminate funding for operations that cover everything from fighting al-Qaida in the heart of the Middle East and safeguarding the stability of the Suez Canal to halting weapons flow to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and ensuring Israel's security.
For weeks the administration has said it won't characterize the military's takeover of the government as a "coup d'etat," Such a determination would trigger automatic suspension of most U.S. aid programs.
Still, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. is trying to abide by all requirements and has conducted a legal review.