Egyptian FM to Visit Washington as Tensions Ease

First visit to U.S. since overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood comes as U.S. resumes some military aid.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy speaks during the 68th session of the General Assembly
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy speaks during the 68th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. AP

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy left for the United States on Thursday, signalling a thaw in relations that were strained after the military ousted president Mohammed Morsi in July.

Fahmy, on his first visit to the United States since the removal of Egypt's first freely elected president, is to meet Secretary of State John Kerry and senior leaders in the Congress, state media reported.

The visit comes as Washington said it would send 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt to bolster counter-terrorism efforts against Islamist insurgents in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

Additionally, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said 650 million dollars would likely be released to Egypt in the near future, which was part of Washington's annual military aid to Cairo - and was on hold after Morsi was toppled.

Cairo and Washington have been strategic allies since Egypt's peace agreement in 1979 with Israel, but relations have been rocky since the ouster of Morsi.

Pro-government media in Cairo denounced what they said was U.S. support for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, while Washington in October withheld some of its aid to Egypt.

But the U.S. stopped short of describing the military's intervention, which came after mass protests calling for Morsi to step down, as a coup - a move that would have triggered the suspension of most aid under US law.

Former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, who deposed Morsi, is now the leading candidate in presidential elections scheduled for late May.