CAIRO (Reuters) – The Egyptian ambassador in Washington said the last three weeks had not been pleasant because of disagreements between Egypt and the United States over elections, human rights and other issues.“It doesn’t mean there is a crisis in Egyptian-American relations but we cannot deny that the last three weeks have not been pleasant days in this relationship,” ambassador Nabil Fahmy told the state news agency MENA in an interview.
On June 5 U.S. President George W. Bush took the Egyptian government by surprise by calling for the release of imprisoned opposition politician Ayman Nour, President Hosni Mubarak’s main contender in the presidential elections of 2005.
Egypt has also responded testily to State Department criticism of its record on human trafficking and of the conduct of upper house elections last Monday, in which the opposition and observers reported widespread official malpractices.
In another blow to Cairo, a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to withhold $200 million in U.S. aid to Egypt unless its government makes some reforms.
Fahmy said that his government would not accept what he called “arm twisting” and aid to Egypt was in U.S. interests.
“The aid which the United States gives to Egypt is not a gift but it is (based on) a U.S. assessment that it serves the U.S. interest… In other words, this aid is an investment for U.S. interests in the Middle East,” he added.
“It (the aid) has not been and it will not be at any time a reason for Egypt to surrender its sovereign right to take the decisions which it sees fit,” he added.