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Middle East

Egypt gives Jared Kushner cold welcome after US cuts military aid

Egypt's Foreign Ministry first snubbed then relented and met US presidential adviser - and Trump son-in-law - Jared Kushner. The US reportedly cut aid to Egypt due to human rights abuses.

Cairo on Wednesday expressed regret over Washington's decision to cut aid to Egypt on the eve of the US presidential adviser's official visit aimed at reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"Egypt considers this step as a misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that binds the two countries over decades, and reflects the lack of understanding of the importance of supporting the stability and success of Egypt," said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

According to US media, Washington blocked nearly $100 million (84.8 million euros) in military and economic aid and delayed the disbursement of nearly $200 million (169.6 million euros) due to Egypt's lack of progress on human rights abuses.

The sum is noteworthy due to the amount of military aid Egypt receives from Washington. Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US aid behind Israel with approximately $1.5 billion annually.

The move "implies a mixing of cards that may have negative repercussions on achieving Egyptian-American common interests," Egypt's Foreign Ministry added.

'Ultimate deal' flounders

Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to wrap up a multicountry visit across the Middle East to shore up support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Upon arriving in Egypt, the Foreign Ministry first announced that it had canceled a pre-scheduled meeting with Kushner in an apparent response to the military and economic aid cuts. However, the Egyptian president's spokesman later said Kushner will meet with the country's head of state instead.

The Foreign Ministry also later relented and agreed to a sit-down with Kushner to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. 

Read more: Trump and Israel: The peace process, the embassy question and a self-inflicted wound

US-Egyptian relations have witnessed a thaw under the Trump administration, with the US president hailing Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as a key ally in the war against terrorism.

"I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President Sissi," Trump said after meeting the Egyptian president in Washington in April. "He's done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt."

Relations between Cairo and Washington had soured in the wake of a military coup against Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013. Former US President Barack Obama responded to the ensuing crackdown by freezing military aid.

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ls/sms (AP, AFP)

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