US, Egypt must remain friends, says McCain
CAIROSen. John McCain said yesterday U.S. relations with Egypt are changing a year after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak but the two countries “must remain friends.” McCain spoke at a business conference in Cairo just before meeting with the country’s military leaders.
U.S.-Egypt relations are at their lowest points in decades, strained over the government’s crackdown on foreign-funded nonprofit groups working for democracy in Egypt. Egyptian authorities have brought 16 Americans and 27 others who worked for the various groups to a criminal trial expected to begin on Feb. 26. McCain chairs one of the four American groups targeted.
“Egypt is changing. It is true, and as such, the nature of America’s partnership with Egypt is also changing,” McCain told a room full of U.S. and Egyptian businessmen. “But ... we must remain the strongest of friends, politically, economically and militarily. We must maintain and strengthen the key pillars of that partnership, especially our commercial and trading relationship and where the people of Egypt and their newly elected government make the right decisions about the policies that will shape their sovereign nation’s future,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying. “We must be here to reinforce and support them.” Washington has threatened to cut $1.5 billion in aid over the crackdown on the democracy groups.
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court meanwhile said Feb. 19 the nominating period for presidential candidates will open March 10 and last four weeks, but stopped short of announcing a date for the election.
Farouq Sultan, the head of the court committee overseeing the vote, told reporters that a decision is expected soon on when Egypt will hold presidential elections, adding that balloting will take place over one or two days. But he said the announcement of the winner, even from a potential run-off, would be declared by the end of June, which would suggest the vote could be held no later than early June.