Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Egyptian Government’s Release Of U.S. NGO Workers

[Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s budget panel for the State Department and foreign operations, is the architect of newly enacted conditions on U.S. military aid to Egypt.  Leahy’s committee included $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, signed into law in December.  But for the first time, the aid is subject to conditions proposed by Leahy which are based on Egyptian military leaders’ Arab Spring pledges to the Egyptian people, concerning democratic reform and the rule of law. Leahy’s comments about the release of the U.S. NGO workers follow:]

Cooler heads have prevailed in this crisis, and both countries now are able to press the reset button on a partnership that has endured for decades and which can continue to serve the interests of the people of both of our countries well into the future.

“These tireless and selfless U.S. citizens have been working side by side with the Egyptian people to bring life to Egyptians’ yearnings for their families and their country.  These Americans never should have been charged in the first place, and neither should Egyptian NGO workers have been charged with any crime.

“I am gratified by the role that the new U.S. conditions have played in this situation.  I expect that these conditions will continue to play a constructive role in the future, underlining U.S. support for the Egyptian people in their journey toward a more inclusive society and more accountable governance.

“The Obama Administration last year at first resisted these new conditions but has come to accept them as an integral part of our relationship.  I commend and thank Secretary Clinton for her energetic and unrelenting efforts to resolve this standoff.  I also appreciate the efforts of Senator McCain, Senator Graham, Senator Blumenthal, Senator Hoeven and others inside and outside of Congress and around the world in pressing for a successful conclusion and in making clear the consequences, under the new U.S. law, of letting this situation fester.

“We have long had a partnership with the Egyptian government.  With these conditions on our assistance, we are widening that partnership to include the aspirations of the Egyptian people for their country.”

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