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Africa

Saudis pledge to help Egypt if foreign aid cut

© Mehdi Chebil

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-19

Saudi Arabia has said that it was ready to step in to help Egypt if Western countries cut foreign aid over the government's recent crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Arab and Islamic countries would intervene to help Egypt if Western countries cut aid packages in response to the army-led government’s deadly crackdowns on Islamist protesters.

“To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, (we say that) Arab and Muslim nations are rich... and will not hesitate to help Egypt,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said, according to the Saudi state news agency, SPA.

The United States and the European Union have strongly criticized the crackdowns in the past week, in which close to 800 people died and thousands more were injured.

Earlier, Germany's development minister, Dirk Niebel, said that Egypt will get “no further pledges this year” of aid from Berlin, and added he has decided “that we won't negotiate this year” on any debt relief for the country.

Last week, Denmark also said that it was cutting 4 million euros in development projects with the government.

However, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt announced that his country’s aid to Egypt consisted “primarily of support to human rights and women’s organizations,” and therefore it was “not so wise” to cut funds.

The United States, meanwhile, Egypt's main aid donor, has said that its $1.3 billion-per-year aid programme would continue, but would be under constant review.

Allies and rivals

Monday’s defiant statement by Prince Saud’s stood in contrast to the low-keyed and cooperative spirit the foreign minister displayed during his visit to France over the weekend.

At a joint press conference with Saud, French President François Hollande said it was the “common responsibility of Arab countries, Europe, and France to help end the violence,” in Egypt.

“I think that Saudi Arabia and France can contribute to making sure [Egypt] returns to peaceful process,” Hollande added.

While Saudi Arabia and Jordan have come out in support  of the interim government in its fight against Islamists, other regional neighbours have harshly criticised it.

Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers have gone so far as to call the army's August 14 assault on Islamist protesters in Cairo a “massacre”.

Date created : 2013-08-19

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