Middle East

Egypt condemns US decision to suspend military aid

Egypt has criticised a decision by the US to suspend a large part of the $1.3bn (£810m) in aid it receives, following months of political turmoil.

A government spokesman in Cairo said the move was wrong and Egypt would "not surrender to American pressure".

The US said this week it was suspending the delivery of large-scale military systems and withholding cash support.

But US Secretary of State John Kerry later stressed the decision was not "a withdrawal from our relationship".

"The interim government understands very well our commitment to the success of this government," Mr Kerry said.

He was speaking shortly after Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty criticised Washington's move, saying Egypt was "continuing on its path towards democracy".

Since the Egyptian army ousted Mohammed Morsi as president in July, the authorities have clashed repeatedly with his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

The US state department launched a review of its aid to Egypt in August after a crackdown that left hundreds of people dead.

On Wednesday, it said it would halt the delivery of Apache helicopters, as well as Harpoon missiles and tank parts.

Washington would also halt a $260m cash transfer and a $300m loan guarantee, officials said.

The freeze was not intended to be permanent, the state department added.

"We will continue to hold the delivery of certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections," state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says the suspension of aid is more symbolic than a painful cut in essential aid.

The announcement had been expected, with deliveries of military hardware already halted, a military exercise cancelled, and cash aid in effect on hold since the summer, our correspondent says.

The US will continue to provide health and education assistance, and money to help Egypt to ensure security in the increasingly volatile Sinai peninsula.