End to Egypt arms freeze depends on leaders: Kerry

End to Egypt arms freeze depends on leaders: Kerry

KUALA LUMPUR - Agence France-Presse
End to Egypt arms freeze depends on leaders: Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry speaks to the media during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 10. AFP photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Oct. 10 that Washington's suspension of military hardware deliveries to Egypt could be lifted based on the behaviour of the country's interim government.

Deliveries could resume if Cairo's military-led authorities make headway toward restoring civilian rule, Kerry said.

"So this would be on the basis of performance," he said during a visit to Malaysia. "By no means is this a withdrawal from our relationship or a severing of our serious commitment to helping the government" transition to democracy, Kerry told reporters in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Washington on Oct. 9 announced a halt to shipments of some large-scale military systems and withheld $260 million in cash aid to Egypt, following the army's ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.

The step was aimed at signalling Washington's displeasure with the military rulers over months of bloodshed amid a deadly crackdown against protesters and the Brotherhood.

Egypt has criticised the U.S. decision as "flawed" and said it would not bow to American pressure.

The decision, which marks a dramatic break with years of unqualified support to Cairo, will prevent deliveries of big-ticket items including Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams tank parts and Harpoon missiles.

The United States had already effectively shelved deliveries of expensive military hardware since the July 3 coup that ousted Morsi and a subsequent clampdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

In the wake of the summer's events, President Barack Obama had ordered his national security team to review the total $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt.

Kerry stressed, however, that the latest move was "not a withdrawal" of the U.S. relationship with Egypt. "We are going to continue, we want this government to succeed." The U.S. administration has said many economic, health and education programs will continue and it was "looking right now at how to repurpose some of the money," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Oct. 10.

Egyptian authorities on Oct. 9 announced that former president Morsi would stand trial on November 4 on charges of inciting the murder of demonstrators protesting against his one-year rule.