UK & World News
Egypt: EU Ministers To Debate Aid Package
European Union foreign ministers will today debate economic measures aimed at forcing Egypt's army-backed rulers to end a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The emergency meeting in Brussels will be closely monitored by all sides in Egypt, as the EU has emerged as a key mediator in the conflict.
But there may be little they can do to inflict hardship on Cairo by cutting back on aid, as much of their cash goes to civil society groups - not to the government - and Saudi Arabia has pledged to plug any shortfall.
The bloc's 28 governments are likely to tread carefully, mixing expressions of concern over bloodshed with limited changes in the ?5bn (£4.28bn) aid package Europe promised to Egypt last year.
"It is about finding a formula for Europe to help Egypt get from where it is now to where a vast majority of the people say they want to be," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
"That's going to be done by a political process and Egypt will need help to get there. And we are ready to help if they so wish."
In July, Baroness Ashton became the first foreign official to meet deposed President Mohamed Morsi after he was ousted by the army, taken into detention and placed under investigation on charges including murder.
The EU's subsequent mediation efforts, conducted jointly with the United States, collapsed earlier in August.
Underlining unease in the West over how to respond to the crisis in Egypt, the White House said on Tuesday that media reports stating it had cut off aid to Egypt were inaccurate.
However, the White House confirmed that the US policy on aid to Egypt was under review.
The US government gives $1.5bn (£965m) each year to Egypt, with $1.3bn (£836m) of that going to the military.
On Tuesday the White House held a cabinet-level meeting to discuss cutting some aid to Egypt, according to officials.
David Carle, who works for Senator Patrick Leahy, said the Senate Appropriations panel for foreign relations has been informed the "transfer of military aid was stopped".
But Pentagon spokesman George Little appeared to play down the remarks, saying: "There has been no decision to halt or to suspend assistance to Egypt."
The Obama administration has said it was reviewing US aid to its long-time ally in the Middle East in light of the overthrow of Mr Morsi and the ongoing crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.