US to Deliver Apache Helicopters to Egypt

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Saturday in a telephone call with his Egyptian counterpart that the United States will deliver to Egypt 10 Apache helicopters to support that country’s counter-terrorism efforts.

The combat helicopters had been scheduled for delivery earlier this year, but Washington suspended it last year after Egypt’s new government cracked down on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi last year. In April of this year, the U.S. announced it would lift the suspension.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Hagel and Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy also discussed regional security in the Middle East and North Africa, and the U.S.-led coalition to counter Islamic State militants.

Hagel thanked Sobhy for Egypt’s role in brokering a ceasefire between Gaza and Israel.

Egypt to host new Mideast talks

The confirmation of delivery followed an announcement Saturday that Cairo would host a meeting between representatives of Fatah, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas leaders from Gaza on Monday.

Hamas led a 50-day deadly conflict with Israel that ended in a ceasefire on August 26.

Palestinian negotiators will meet with their Israeli counterparts on Wednesday.

Israeli shelling has left much of the Gaza strip in ruins and about 2,100 people dead. The toll on Israel was comparatively small, with about 70 people killed.

Shortly before the conflict, Hamas and the more moderate Fatah agreed to form a unity government under President Abbas’ leadership. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and has condemned the move.

Palestinians want an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, construction of a seaport and the release of Hamas prisoners from Israel. Israel wants control of Gaza’s borders to guard against the import of weapons.

Source: AP, AFP and Reuters.