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Egypt presses ahead with NGO trial of Americans

February 26, 2012
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Source: Yahoo

CAIRO (AP) — The trial of 16 Americans and 27 others opens Sunday at a Cairo courthouse in what critics say is a politically charged case linked to a government crackdown on nonprofit groups that has touched off the deepest crisis in U.S.-Egyptian relations in decades.

A senior U.S. official said Saturday the Obama administration is in "intense discussions" with Egypt to resolve the legal case "in the coming days."

The case, which involves American employees of four U.S.-based pro-democracy groups, has tested one of Washington's most pivotal relationships in the Middle East, and prompted U.S. officials to threaten to cut a $1.5 billion annual aid package to Egypt if the issue is not resolved. Egyptian authorities have responded by blasting what they call U.S. meddling in Egypt's legal affairs.

President Barack Obama has urged Egypt's military rulers to drop the investigation, and high-level officials, including Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey and Republican Sen. John McCain, have flown in to Cairo to seek a solution.

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