The United States said Thursday it planned to follow through with the controversial sale to Egypt of sophisticated anti-ship missiles despite concern from some lawmakers that it could threaten Israel's military advantage in the region, reported AFP.
"The sale of Harpoons is part of an ongoing longstanding cooperation we've had with the Egyptian military," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, referring to the more than 50 missiles Washington will sell Cairo for 400 million dollars.
The Cairo-based Al Ahram quoted Deputy Assistant State Secretary David Satterfield as saying that the arms deal Cairo gets from Washington “should not scare anyone.”
Satterfield said that US relations with Egypt as extremely important, and the US believes Egypt is doing its best to bring about stability in the region.
Boucher told reporters the sale would help Egypt protect the Suez Canal which would be of "value to shipping generally and to US warships that use this channel."
"There are a variety of reasons for that sale," he said. "We've discussed it with members of Congress and we'll continue to discuss it with members of Congress."
On Tuesday, a congressional source said some lawmakers, including Representative Tom Lantos, a Democrat and staunch supporter of Israel, were opposed to the sale which was first reported by The Washington Post.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the proposal appeared to be a "trial balloon," but that some members were nevertheless concerned.
"I see no compelling reason for Egypt to receive these sophisticated anti-ship missiles given that Egypt faces no formal external threat," the Post quoted Lantos as saying.
After Israel, Egypt is the second largest recipient of US military aid, getting some 1.3 billion dollars a year – Albawaba.com
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