US Activists Hide in Egypt Embassy

Unusual step indicates tensions between Washington and Cairo
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2012 11:20 AM CST
US Activists Hide in Egypt Embassy
Egyptian protestors shout anti-Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) slogans during a protest at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The US embassy in Cairo has taken the extraordinary step of sheltering US citizens working for pro-democracy non-governmental organizations—ostensibly to protect them from the Egyptian government, which has raided some of their offices and prevented them from leaving the country. The move is a sign that tensions between Washington and Cairo have hit a new high, the Washington Post reports.

Top Egyptian generals arrived in Washington yesterday to try to smooth those tensions over, according to the Wall Street Journal. They'll meet with officials from the State Department, Pentagon, and Congress. And while the NGOs will be a topic, State Department officials also intend to press the issue of democratic reforms, warning that US aid could be cut if they don't materialize. Meanwhile, the lobbying firms that had been representing Egypt in Washington have severed their contracts, after taking intense criticism following the NGO raids, the New York Times reports. (More Egypt stories.)

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