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Administration green lights Egyptian military aid

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced that it would partially relax a restriction on military and counterterrorism aid to Egypt.

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelTrump’s bogus use of cyber threats to prop up coal GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Overnight Defense: Latest on historic Korea summit | Trump says 'many people' interested in VA job | Pompeo thinks Trump likely to leave Iran deal MORE told his Egyptian counterpart of the move, which lets the United States to turn over 10 Apache helicopters to Cairo and frees up some of Washington's annual $1.3 billion military aid package for counterterrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula, Reuters reported.

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"We believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten U.S., Egyptian and Israeli security," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

Last year, the United States pulled back on military aid to Egypt after then-President Mohamed Morsi cracked down on anti-military protesters. But this week, Secretary of State John Kerry certified that Cairo had sustained its relationship with the U.S. and is "upholding its obligations under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty" of 1979, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The administration has not yet been able to certify, however, that Egypt is moving toward a democratic transition that would include steps like transparent elections and easing the restrictions put in place on free speech and the media, she noted. Additional aid could flow to Egypt if those findings were made.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), head of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign aide, welcomed the announcement.

"I have continued to advocate for Egyptians to have the tools necessary to stabilize the economy and keep the country secure, including equipment that assists with counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai," she said in a statement.