US offers assistance to free ship from Suez Canal

US offers assistance to free ship from Suez Canal
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The United States has offered assistance to Egyptian officials to help dislodge a large cargo ship that is stuck in the Suez Canal, the White House said Friday.

"As part of our active diplomatic dialogue with Egypt, we've offered U.S. assistance to Egyptian authorities to help reopen the canal. We are consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support those efforts,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiWhy in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? Only two people cited by TSA for mask violations have agreed to pay fine Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE said at a briefing Friday afternoon, when asked about the situation. "Those conversations are ongoing.”

Psaki did not offer further details on the assistance offered. CNN is reporting that the U.S. Navy is preparing to send a dredging assessment to the canal to advise Egyptian authorities on how to dislodge the vessel.

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“We have offered, and stand ready to assist Egypt, and will look to support any specific request we receive,” Pentagon spokesperson Commander Jessica L. McNulty said in a statement. “We continue to monitor and assess the situation, but have nothing to provide on any potential specific support at this time.”

A 224,000-ton container ship became stuck sideways in the canal on Tuesday and officials have been unable to free it for days, preventing traffic from flowing through the canal. 

The White House is concerned about the blockage’s potential impact on energy markets, Psaki told reporters, noting that the White House is closely tracking the situation. 

“That’s one of the reasons we offered assistance from the United States,” Psaki said. “We are going to continue to monitor market conditions and respond appropriately if necessary.”

The Suez Canal is a major waterway for global trade, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and providing the shortest maritime route between Asia and Europe. An estimated 12 percent of global trade passes through the canal.

—Ellen Mitchell contributed. Updated at 3:38 p.m.