Cairo cancels Kushner meeting after U.S. withdraws up to $290 mln in aid

A scheduled meeting between Egyptian Foreign minister and top U.S. presidential advisor Jared Kushner was aborted at the last minute on Wednesday, just hours after the U.S. withdrew tens of millions of dollars in aid.

The Egyptian foreign ministry would not give a reason for the cancellation of the meeting, however, it was dropped from Sameh Shoukry’s schedule immediately after Egypt’s foreign minister released a statement condemning the U.S.’s decision to pull funds.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that the U.S. is denying $95.7 million in aid to Egypt and has plans to delay a further $195 million on the basis of human rights failures, according to two U.S. sources familiar with the matter.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the plans highlighted the U.S.’s poor judgement and lack of understanding of the situation in Egypt.

“Egypt sees this measure as reflecting poor judgement of the strategic relationship that ties the two countries over long decades and as adopting a view that lacks an accurate understanding of the importance of supporting Egypt’s stability,” the foreign ministry said.

It added that the decision could have “negative implications” for the shared goals of the two countries.

Trump’s son-in-law had been due to lead a U.S. delegation in meeting with Shoukry in Cairo to discuss the Middle East.

A U.S. embassy official in Cairo told Reuters Kushner’s meeting “was never fixed.”

Kushner and his U.S. delegation are still due to meet later today with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sisi’s office confirmed.

The U.S. decision to drop aid reflects its continued concerns over Cairo’s stance on civil liberties.

These were especially tested in May when the Egyptian president passed a law regulating non-governmental organizations, which critics say makes it harder for such charities to operate in the country. Egyptian officials had previously assured the U.S. administration that this law would not be passed.

The $195 million in delayed funding will be held in an account until such time as the U.S. administration believes that Egypt has made suitable progress in advancing human rights and democracy in the country.

“Strengthened security cooperation with Egypt is important to U.S. national security,” a source told Reuters.

“We remain concerned about Egypt’s lack of progress in key areas, including human rights and the new NGO law.”

Egypt, however, is an important strategic partner for the U.S. in the Middle East because of its border with Israel and its control of the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

Source: CNBC & Reuters