US Delays Delivery Of Jets To Egypt


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( 4UMF NEWS ) US Delays Delivery Of Jets To Egypt:

The US says it is delaying the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt amid unrest following the army's overthrow of Mohammed Morsi as president.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the decision was made "given the current situation in Egypt".

Earlier, Egypt's army chief called for protests on Friday to give the military a mandate to confront "violence and potential terrorism".

But Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he was not calling for public unrest.

In response, the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Mr Morsi, said Gen Sisi was "calling for civil war".

The four F-16 jets are part of an already agreed bigger order of 20 planes, eight of which have already been sent to Egypt.

Following the military takeover on 3 July, Washington said it was examining whether the action constituted a coup, as that would trigger a legal requirement to cut off aid.

As recently as 11 July US officials suggested the latest four F-16s would still be sent to Egypt.

However, on Wednesday the Pentagon confirmed that the delivery was on hold.

"Given the current situation in Egypt we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s," Mr Little told reporters.

"We remain committed to the US-Egypt defence relationship as it remains a foundation of our broader strategic partnership with Egypt and serves as a pillar of regional stability," he said.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel informed General Sisi of the decision in a phone call earlier on Wednesday, the Pentagon spokesman added.

US military aid to Egypt is estimated to be $1.3bn (£860m) each year.

Call for reconciliation

In a speech at a military graduation ceremony broadcast on television, Gen Sisi said: "I urge the people to take to the streets this coming Friday to prove their will and give me, the army and police, a mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism."

"So that in case there was a resort to violence and terrorism, the army would have a mandate to confront this."

He said he did not want more bloodshed and urged national reconciliation.

Gen Sisi, who is also the defence minister in the new government, rejected rumours about divisions within the army ranks. "I swear by God that the Egyptian army is united," he said.

Referring to the army's intervention to remove Mr Morsi at the beginning of July, Gen Sisi said: "I urged the former president to be a president for all Egyptians".

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Cairo says Gen Sisi's call showed who was really in charge in Egypt - not the interim president picked by the military, Adly Mahmud Mansour, but the military itself.

He says it may be a sign of frustration that protests against the interim government are still going on.

Senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy said Gen Sisi was "calling for a civil war... to protect this military coup".

"He is proving that he is the actual ruler of the country, and that the president, his vice president and the government do not hold any power," he added.

In Cairo, two people were reported to have been killed in clashes at a pro-Morsi demonstration overnight. That followed nine deaths in the city on Tuesday.

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