Clinton to lobby lawmakers on Egypt aid amid unrest

September 18, 2012 17:40

Lawmakers call for probe into attacks over anti-Islam film, wary on aid; Clinton to stress that US "should not turn its back."

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Clinton delivers the keynote address

Clinton (R370). (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lobby US lawmakers this week on the need to keep billions of dollars in aid flowing to Egypt and other countries caught up in a spasm of violent anti-American protests across the Muslim world.

The State Department said Clinton intended to meet with Congress later this week to discuss the protests, which saw US diplomatic missions attacked and the US ambassador to Libya killed amid fury over a film produced in the United States that many saw as an insult to Islam.

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Republican lawmakers are calling for an investigation into the attacks amid suspicions in Republican circles that the Democratic administration is trying to tamp down inquiries about the events as the Nov. 6 presidential election looms.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had hoped to hold a public hearing on Egypt this week. She reluctantly called it off after the Obama administration refused to send any witnesses and instead offered a private briefing for lawmakers, a congressional aide said.

Officials said Clinton's meetings on Capitol Hill have not yet been scheduled and they gave no details about the format.

But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton would be ready to answer lawmakers' questions, both about the attacks and about the future of US policy in a region tipping further into crisis.

"They will want to have a full assessment of what happened, what we know, what measures we took at the time, what measures we're taking going forward to continue to protect our personnel and our facilities," Nuland said of Clinton's meetings, which are tentatively expected to take place on Thursday.

Nuland said Clinton also planned to stress the importance of continued US support, which includes $1.3 billion for Egypt's military; proposals for up to $1 billion in debt relief for Cairo; and a further $800 million in economic assistance for other countries in the region.

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