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Obama summons Cabinet to discuss ending Egypt aid

President Obama will meet with members of his Cabinet on Tuesday to discuss cutting off aid to Egypt.



"The president will convene a National Security Council meeting with principals on his national security team on this issue," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Earnest cautioned against reading too much into the meeting, saying those type of conferences are "not uncommon" and that he was certain that the Tuesday meeting was "not even the first one on this topic."

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The spokesman also shot down reports that the administration has already ended the aid in response to the brutal crackdown on protesters by Egypt’s military.

The White House spokesman indicated that "at least some assistance" has gone out to Egypt during an "interim period" during which the administration was evaluating the utility of further assistance. He also said that it was possible "additional tranches of aid could go out" as the White House conducted its review.

At the same time, Earnest reiterated that the U.S. does not plan to proceed with war games originally planned for later this fall with Egypt, and that the sale of four F-16 jets remains on hold. He also indicated that the White House was considering a delay for a planned sale of Apache helicopters.

"A decision about the delivery of these helicopters has not been made yet," Earnest said.

But despite those delays, Earnest said it was wrong to say that the U.S. had stopped the flow of aid to Egypt.

"Published reports to the contrary that suggest public support have been cut off are not accurate," Earnest said.

The White House spokesman's comments contrasted with those made earlier Tuesday by an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who said that the Senate Appropriations Committee's foreign relations subpanel was told that the Obama administration had, in fact, decided to temporarily halt aid.

David Carle, the aide to Leahy, told The Associated Press the subpanel was told "transfer of military aid was stopped," but that the suspension reflected "current practice, not necessarily official policy."

But Earnest said that any policy change "would be announced" and attributed confusion to the process by which foreign aid "tranches" were distributed.

"This is not a faucet where you just turn the spigot," Earnest said.

A spokesman for the Pentagon also told CNN on Tuesday no decisions had been made regarding the aid.

"I'm not aware of any de facto suspension. I don't know where that came from," George Little told the network.

The president is under increasing pressure from both parties to get tough with Egypt, which has been plagued with political unrest since the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Mubarak's replacement, the democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi, was deposed from office by the Egyptian military earlier this summer.

Obama has declined to label Mori's ouster a "coup," which would require the U.S. to immediately suspend aid, but has condemned the violence against Morsi's supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Going forward, I've asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship” Obama said.

Meghashyam Mali contributed.

— This story was updated at 2:50 p.m.