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EU to review relationship with Egypt, U.S. officials want aid cut

Published: Updated:

The European Union will review its relationship with Egypt over the next few days, according to a statement released by the bloc on Sunday while U.S. lawmakers called for cutting military aid to the Arab country after hundreds of Islamists supporters of the deposed President Mohammed Mursi were killed by security forces.

Warning the further escalation of violence could result in “unpredictable consequences,” Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Jose Manuel Barroso,

President of the European Commission urged Egypt’s army and interim government to restrain from violence, restart dialogue and adhere to the democratic process.

“Together with its member states, the EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt and adopt measures aimed at pursuing these goals,” said Van Rompuy and Barroso, as quoted by AFP.

“The calls for democracy and fundamental freedoms from the Egyptian population cannot be disregarded, much less washed away in blood.”

"In cooperation with its international and regional partners, the EU will remain firmly engaged in efforts to promote an end to violence, resumption of political dialogue and return to a democratic process."

Stating that the violence and killings in Egypt this week cannot be “justified nor condoned” and should end immediately, Van Rompuy and Barroso also called for political prisoners to be released.

U.S. lawmakers want aid cut

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican hawk and frequent critic of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, suggested Washington could pressure Egypt’s generals by cutting off aid, spare parts for U.S.-made military equipment and backing for an International Monetary Fund loan to relieve the country’s devastated economy.

“For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stand for,” AFP quoted him as saying to “Fox News Sunday” in an interview.

Senator Rand Paul, a rising name in the Republican Party, also called for cutting off aid, saying “I don’t think we are buying any love of the Egyptian people when they see an American tank on the street.”

Another senator, the Democratic Richard Blumenthal said the administration should “condition our future aid on specific steps toward the rule of law and the return to democracy.”

“We shouldn’t cut off all aid. There are no good choices here. But of the two, there is more opportunity to protect American interests if we work with the military,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Obama last week canceled joint military exercises but has yet to suspend aid to Egypt, a key Middle East ally and one of just two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Washington has refused to call Mursi’s overthrow a “coup,” a prerequisite if it intends to cut the aid.

On Saturday, the Egyptian government gave new death toll figures that brought the number of dead in four days to 751.

(With AFP and Reuters)