US delegation arrives in Cairo Tuesday to discuss aid package

The US is resuming negotiations with the Egyptian government regarding an economic aid package to help Egypt overcome the aftermath of the 25 January revolution.

After a one-year hiatus on the talks, a high-level delegation of economists and politicians headed by Robert Hormats, under-secretary of state for economic affairs, is set to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday to meet with officials of the Egyptian ministries of finance, foreign affairs and international cooperation.

The proposed package would forgive US$1 billion of the US$3.2 billion debt that Egypt owes the US, and would inject US$60 million into the local economy to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

Sources said the Egyptian government will ask the US to drop the debt altogether, not swap it, and allocate US$1 billion to open credit lines for Egyptian goods, or to ensure Egyptian bonds issued internationally.

A high-level Egyptian delegation visited Washington in April 2011 to request that the US fulfill the President Barack Obama’s pledge to support Egypt after the revolution by dropping their debt burden, but the US negotiating team insisted on swapping Egypt’s debt, not forgiving it.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday phoned Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to assure the minister that the US does want to support Egypt’s economic recovery, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

According to a statement made by the US embassy in Cairo on Saturday, the delegation plans to discuss “steps to rebuild stability and confidence in Egypt as well as grow its economy, and encourage completion of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.”

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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