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Clinton pledges millions in U.S. aid to Egypt

CAIRO — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Egypt on Tuesday to pledge tens of millions of dollars in U.S. financial aid and business incentives while also appealing for Arab help in ending the escalating violence in Libya and Bahrain.

Clinton's vow of support for Egypt's month-old transitional government came at the start of a three-day Mideast visit.

At a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi, Clinton acknowledged that Egypt and other Middle Eastern states face a "hard path" in implementing political and economic reforms, but she said the United States will remain a steadfast partner.

Her visit came ahead of Saturday's scheduled referendum on reforms to Egypt's constitution. The proposed amendments would rein in presidential powers and usher in a framework for a rapid transition to democracy, including parliamentary and presidential elections.

Clinton pledged to secure quick congressional passage of a $60 million U.S.-Egypt Enterprise Fund to stimulate investment and give Egyptian businesses access to low-cost loans.

The new aid would augment a previous pledge by the Obama administration of $90 million in near-term economic assistance, plus $80 million in insurance backing for letters of credit issued by Egyptian banks.

Agency dissolved

Egypt's interior minister on Tuesday dissolved the country's widely hated state security agency, which was accused of torture and other human rights abuses in the suppression of dissent against Hosni Mubarak's rule. The new interior minister, Maj. Gen. Mansour el-Essawy, said a new agency in charge of keeping national security and fighting terrorism will be formed.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Clinton pledges millions in U.S. aid to Egypt 03/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:54pm]
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