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Egypt, U.S. Delay 'Bright Star' Exercise

Aug. 17, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE   |   Comments
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The United States and Egypt have decided to cancel a major military exercise this year due to the country's unsettled political climate, U.S. officials said Aug. 17.

The exercise, dubbed "Bright Star," normally takes place every two years but will not be held later this year as previously scheduled, two defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Agence France-Presse.

"The Egyptian government and U.S. decided to postpone it for 2011 based on mutual agreement in light of ongoing transition events and the military leadership serving in an interim executive role," one official said in an email.

"The decision to postpone came through routine bilateral conversations," the official said.

Despite the decision to cancel the military exercise, the U.S. official said the two countries have "an enduring defense and security relationship" that underpins a "strong and friendly partnership," the official added.

The next Bright Star exercise instead will take place in 2013 and formal planning by Egyptian officers will begin next June, he said.

The move underlined how political upheaval in Egypt has cast doubt on long-standing ties between the two countries after the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally.

After initial U.S. ambivalence toward pro-democracy protests that erupted in Egypt on January 25, the United States supported the Feb. 11 toppling of Mubarak and endorsed a transition to democracy guided by an interim military council.

But U.S. officials have conveyed concerns to Egypt's interim military rulers over what they call growing anti-Americanism in the country, including a harsh portrayal of the American ambassador by a state-run magazine.

Fueling the tensions between Washington and Cairo, the legal arm of a notorious Egyptian intelligence apparatus has launched a probe of foreign funding - including American support - of civil society groups, judicial officials said.

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