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U.S. says time 'not right' for free trade talks with Egypt - Daily News Egypt

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U.S. says time 'not right' for free trade talks with Egypt

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed new concern Friday over democracy in Egypt and said the timing was not right to pursue free-trade talks with this key Middle East ally. Rice, who was due to fly to Egypt today at the start of a Middle East swing, expressed Washington s dismay that the government …


WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed new concern Friday over democracy in Egypt and said the timing was not right to pursue free-trade talks with this key Middle East ally. Rice, who was due to fly to Egypt today at the start of a Middle East swing, expressed Washington s dismay that the government of President Hosni Mubarak had moved to delay upcoming local elections for two years. “Of course we were disappointed that the municipal elections were postponed, the chief U.S. diplomat told a roundtable of Arab journalists gathered at the State Department. “The message that I will take to Egypt is that Egypt needs to stay on the democratic course, she said. It needs to keep pushing ahead on the democratic course. “It is a great civilization and great people and it can lead the democratic progress in the Arab world. I would hope that it will do that. Rice, who said she planned to meet with civil society and opposition groups in Cairo, took pains to stress that Egypt had made progress on the political front, particularly the introduction of multi-candidate elections. “While we will continue to press for further change and further reform, I think we will want to note and to acknowledge that a lot has changed in Egypt, and to keep pushing for those reforms to continue, she said. The municipal elections, which were to have been held before April, were just the latest cause for U.S. concern over Mubarak s commitment to democracy. The United States was sharply critical of last year s parliamentary elections, marred by violence and intimidation. It strongly criticized Cairo for the jailing of opposition leader Ayman Nour. U.S. trade officials said last month such concerns were blocking the launch of talks on a bilateral trade pact, and they reportedly withdrew an invitation to a delegation from Cairo to visit Washington. Rice said Friday that a free-trade agreement was still a good idea but added, We are, at this particular point, not in a position to pursue it actively. “It s important that we have the right atmosphere for a free trade agreement, Rice said. It s not a matter of punishment; it s a matter of the timing being not right. AFP

Topics: Investment

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https://dailyfeed.dailynewsegypt.com/2006/02/20/u-s-says-time-not-right-for-free-trade-talks-with-egypt/
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