In the light of the violent crackdown on protesters in Egypt, European Union foreign ministers are to consider how the bloc can exert pressure on the country’s army-backed rulers into finding a peaceful solution.
At stake could be a five-billion-euro package of grants and loans promised last year.
“The ministers will take decisions probably towards the middle of the week,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
“We’re currently re-examining our relations with Egypt and then, depending on the situation, we’ll see what needs to be decided.”
In Washington there are growing calls among lawmakers to suspend the equivalent of over one billion euros of military and economic funding.
President Barack Obama has announced that normal cooperation with Cairo can not continue but stopped short of cutting off US aid.
Senator Kelly Ayotte was among those calling for aid to be stopped:
“Now with the recent violent crackdown, I do not see how we can continue aid. I believe it must be suspended, because unfortunately, I think the military has got the impression, particularly with the president not asking for aid to be suspended when he spoke last week, that whatever they do we will continue our aid, so I do support suspending it at this time.”
Egypt’s foreign minister has reacted angrily to what he called threats from the West.
Nabil Fahmy said that aid money was vital, helping to fund such things as healthcare, “cutting it during this period of crisis would be unacceptable”.