Kerry: Premature to threaten cutting Egypt's $1.3B aid

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) refused to commit Friday evening to cutting U.S. aid to Egypt as a result of the political turmoil in that country.

Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was premature to consider withdrawing the $1.3 billion in yearly aid the U.S. provides to Egypt.

"Look, let's not put the cart ahead of the horse," Kerry said last night on CNN. "There are a lot of things before we get to that. We obviously have a lot of tools."

Egypt is weathering political turmoil that has captivated world attention. Protesters have taken to the streets to riot against the government, fueled by anxieties about the poor economy and corruption in the government.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took to state television on Friday night to ask for the resignation of his cabinet, and promise reforms. President Obama made a statement shortly thereafter in which he amped up pressure on Mubarak on those promises.

Kerry said he was optimistic about the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the Eygptian situation. He encouraged Mubarak to consider a plan to "defer" the president's planned transfer of power to his son, perhaps to examine the possibility of democratic elections in Egypt.

"One of the things that I think he could do, which might be constructive, is to talk with his son and his son to talk with him and to sort of recognize the frustrations that have built up and what the needs are now," he said. "And perhaps defer his son's ambitions for the moment or ask him to in a way that sort of promises some kind of succession process that opens the process up."

Egpyt poses a challenge for the U.S. government, since it has been a strategic partner for years and a relatively moderate Muslim nation in the Middle East. The U.S. fears that the Muslim Brotherhood could take power, and make Egypt more hospitable to anti-American forces.

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