US & Canada

US lifts military aid freeze against Egypt

US jets fly over the pyramids of Egypt in March of 1998 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The aid includes F-16 jets like the one seen to the far-right above

President Barack Obama has told his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, that the US will resume full military aid to Egypt.

In a phone call on Tuesday, Mr Obama informed Mr al-Sisi that F-16 fighter jets, missiles and M1A1 tank kits would be delivered.

The aid was put on hold in the wake of a military coup in 2013.

Egypt is part of an Arab offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and also fighting Islamic State in Libya.

In October 2013, the Obama Administration said it would halt the delivery of some large military systems to the Egyptian government until it saw advances towards democracy.

But on Tuesday, the president said the jets, missiles and tank kits will resume. Apache helicopter deliveries restarted in December.

He also assured the Egyptian leader that he would continue to support the $1.3b (£876.8m) in aid that the US government gives to Egypt annually.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr al-Sisi took over the country in 2013 in a military coup
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Obama visited Egypt in 2009

"The president explained that these and other steps will help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to US and Egyptian interests in an unstable region, consistent with the longstanding strategic partnership between our two countries," the White House said in a statement detailing the call between the two leaders.

The statement went on to say that Mr Obama expressed his concerns about human rights abuses in Egypt.

The aid comes as Egypt has tried to take a leading role in forming an Arab military alliance to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

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