By Sophia Jessen
The US State Department confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the Economic Summit. During his visit, Kerry will also meet with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and other senior Egyptian leaders.
In the statement, the spokesperson said Kerry and Al-Sisi will discuss a range of bilateral and global issues, coalition efforts against “Islamic State” (IS), the situation in Libya and the ongoing crisis in Syria.
“We continue to work with the Egyptian government to help the Egyptian people stabilise and grow the economy, create jobs, educate young people, improve access to health care, and to help realise the aspirations of the Egyptian people for an inclusive, rights- and freedoms-respecting, and peaceful political climate,” the spokesperson said.
In December the US Congress approved the resumption of the annual $1.3bn military aid provided that Egypt complies with specific democratic requirements, but allowed Kerry to supersede the conditions for national security reasons.
The Congress also required that Egypt held free and fair elections, implement democratic laws or policies, and respects civil society, organisations and freedom of expression, before another $725m in economic aid would be released.
According to the Congressional Research Service, a legislative US Congress branch agency, the US has provided Egypt with $76bn in bilateral foreign aid since 1948. This includes $1.3bn in annual military aid from 1987 to present.
Kerry had earlier raised his concerns about Egypt’s restrictive NGO law before it was enforced in November 2014. He said it would impede the ability of Egyptian and international NGOs to support the democratic process in Egypt.
Last month, US Senator John McCain highlighted his concerns for human rights in Egypt referring to the sentencing of activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and the anti-protest law “that infringes on internationally recognised rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association” and questioned the direction Egypt is heading.
Kerry will arrive on 12 March in Sharm El-Sheikh, for the beginning of the Economic Summit on 13 March.