WASHINGTON - The top US military officer forcefully argued against a cut-off in aid to Egypt on Thursday but acknowledged there needed to be "consequences" after a crackdown on US pro-democracy activists that has strained ties between Cairo and Washington.
Washington has said $1.3 billion in US military aid is at risk due to an Egyptian probe into civil society groups that has resulted in charges against 43 activists, including 19 Americans who have been barred from leaving the country. Some have taken refuge at the US embassy.
But General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that a cut-off in aid could backfire by distancing future generations of Egyptian military officers from the United States.
He also noted privileges, including overflight rights, that US aid helps ensure.
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