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Bush, in Shift on Egypt, Links New Aid to Rights

The Bush administration will oppose any additional foreign aid for Egypt to protest the Egyptian government's prosecution of human rights campaigner Saad Eddin Ibrahim and its poor treatment of pro-democracy organizations, administration sources said yesterday.

The Ibrahim case makes it "impossible" for the administration to contemplate extra money for Egypt, according to a White House official who said President Bush will soon advise Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in writing of his decision. Existing aid programs will not be affected.

Bush's decision to criticize Mubarak and connect Egypt's human rights performance to economic aid is a notable shift in policy toward a longtime ally considered essential to U.S. efforts to calm the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

A tiny step in the right direction. But past experience doesn't give me much confidence that this represents any kind of shift in policy.


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