independent

Friday 18 April 2014

EU considers Egypt arms and aid ban

German chancellor Angela Merkel has talked of ending arms sales to Egypt (AP)

Senior EU diplomats have discussed a response to the week of bloody violence in Egypt including proposals to halt aid programmes and arms shipments.

The meeting of ambassadors came a day after top EU officials said it will "urgently review" its relations with Egypt.

While the EU lacks the military muscle that gives the US a special position in dealing with Egypt, European nations are a major source of aid, loans, business and tourists.

The EU and its member states last year pledged a combined 5 billion euros in loans and aid for Egypt. European nations are also the country's biggest trading partner. The trade volume between the EU and Egypt reached almost 24 billion euros in 2011.

The flow of aid money, however, could be abruptly halted in the wake of the deadly clashes between security forces and supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi since last week.

Germany's development minister, Dirk Niebel, said that Egypt will get "no further pledges this year" of aid from Berlin and added he has decided "that we won't negotiate this year" on any debt relief for the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also floated the idea to halt previously approved arms shipments to Egypt as part of a coordinated EU response.

The diplomats meeting in Brussels were not expected to make immediate decisions, but rather to take stock of the situation and lay the groundwork for a coordinated response, an EU official said.

The policy response will then likely be finalised by an emergency meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers, possibly by the end of the week.

Press Association

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