err tells Eg pt aid de­pends on re­forms

Viet Nam News - - World -

A IS A A A — US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry has urged Egypt to act swiftly on eco­nomic re­forms to se­cure a US$4.8 bil­lion In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund loan, say­ing the mea­sures were needed to get fur­ther aid from the US Congress, an Amer­i­can of­fi­cial said.

Kerry met Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Mursi for about an hour on the side­lines of an African Union sum­mit on Satur­day, dis­cussing Syria’s civil war, the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, hu­man rights in Egypt and the coun­try’s fal­ter­ing econ­omy, the of­fi­cial said.

Egypt’s Is­lamist-led govern­ment has been re­sis­tant to in­tro­duc­ing the aus­ter­ity mea­sures needed to win the IMF fund­ing, in­clud­ing rais­ing taxes and cut­ting fuel sub­si­dies, fear­ing such painful re­forms could pro­voke so­cial un­rest.

How­ever, an IMF deal could help shore up in­vestor and donor con­cerns af­ter two years of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity since the over­throw of for­mer pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. The in­sta­bil­ity has de­pressed tourism, a cru­cial in­dus­try for Egypt.

The US of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said Kerry had made the ar­gu­ment that the re­forms were nec­es­sary to per­suade Amer­i­can law­mak­ers to pro­ceed with fur­ther eco­nomic sup­port for the coun­try, which bor­ders US ally Is­rael.

“He urged ac­tion on mak­ing re­forms hap­pen now to move to­wards re­quire­ments to get the IMF pack­age,” the of­fi­cial said.

Dur­ing his first visit to Cairo as sec­re­tary of state, on March 3, Kerry told Mursi the United States would pro­vide the first $190 mil­lion of $450 mil­lion in pledged bud­get sup­port be­cause of Mursi’s com­mit­ment to see the IMF process through.

The re­main­der, how­ever, would de­pend on the eco­nomic re­forms, a point Kerry made again in the Ethiopian cap­i­tal.

“He said ... we need to be able to show Congress that you have taken the nec­es­sary re­forms,” said the of­fi­cial. “I have been a strong ad­vo­cate of sup­port for Egypt. I con­tinue to sup­port aid for Egypt, but ... we need to see re­forms in place that will en­cour­age my for­mer col­leagues back at home to act.”

Egypt has in re­cent years re­ceived about $1.3 bil­lion in mil­i­tary aid from Wash­ing­ton, sup­port that dates back to its sign­ing of a peace treaty with Is­rael more than 30 years ago. That as­sis­tance, how­ever, is not seen as con­tin­gent on Egyp­tian eco­nomic re­form. — T S

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