Report: Egypt Gives US 'Satisfactory Replies' on N. Korea Missile Deal
A secret delegation from the Egyptian Defense Ministry visited Washington this week for talks on Egypt's ballistic missile deals with North Korea, according to a report by Haaretz, quoting sources in Washington.
According to the paper, the visit to the US followed American concerns that Cairo and Pyongyang had signed a deal for the delivery of No-Dong ballistic missile technology to Egypt. The No-Dong's operational range is 800 kilometers.
No details were made available about the nature of the talks, but sources told the paper that the Americans were provided with "satisfactory" responses to their inquiries.
Following the talks, administration officials began efforts to block legislation in Congress aimed at curtailing arms exports to Egypt as part of sanctions for the missile deal.
The paper added that in recent days, tripartite meetings among officials from the US administration, Congress and the Egyptian government had taken place in an effort to assuage congressional concerns about the missile deal and Cairo's links with Pyongyang.
An observer quoted in the report noted that the announcement of "satisfactory answers" suggested that the deal involved technology for upgrading the Scuds that Egypt already possesses, rather than production of the No-Dong. However, said Haaretz, no confirmation of this assessment was provided by other sources.
Earlier in July, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak denied US intelligence reports that his country aimed to produce the intermediate-range missiles, according to the Middle East Newsline (MENL).
In the first public reference to the matter by the president, Mubarak said his regime iwas not interested in what he termed long-range missiles.
Mubarak told the Al Mussawar magazine that Egypt had no use for such a program, because Cairo did not harbor hostile intentions toward any country.
Western diplomatic sources were quoted by MENL as saying Mubarak relayed a similar message during his visit to Washington in March. At the time, Mubarak met President George Bush, senior administration officials and congressional leaders.
The news service also reported then that Mubarak appeared "relieved" over initial congressional approval to continue US military aid to Egypt.
The issue was being pressed by several Republican leaders in the House and Senate who expressed dismay over Egypt's “human rights violations” as well as efforts to develop an intermediate-range missile.
Egypt allegedly sought 50 engines from North Korea to power the missile.
US officials reported that North Korea had tested an engine used in the long-range Taepo Dong-1 missile program. Last week's test was said to have been the most significant development in North Korea's missile development program since 1998, said MENL.
Each year, Egypt receives $1.3 billion in US military aid and about $630 million in civilian aid - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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