Obama Proposes Financial Support For Egypt

Originally published on May 20, 2011 6:30 am
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SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Im Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Cairo.

President BARACK OBAMA: Already we've become what...

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: State television broadcast President Obamas speech live. Many tuning in welcomed him saying that the U.S. is shifting its approach from one of narrow self-interest. But they did so with reservation. Khaled Fahmy chairs the history department at the American University in Cairo.

Professor KHALED FAHMY (Chairman of History Department, American University in Cairo): I am sure you can realize that we in the region have heard this language before, many times, so we are skeptical as to how much he will actually deliver on that.

NELSON 3: Some people were also uneasy with the financial nod Obama gave Egypt with a billion dollars in debt relief and a billion more in loan guarantees.

Engineer Iman Shams, who watched the speech at a cafe near the Egyptian stock exchange, says its time for her people to chart their own course.

Ms. IMAN SHAMS (Engineer): I dont like taking money from any country. I am sorry. We are here to help yourself, here. Help yourself. Dont need any cash from any country!

NELSON: Money aside, she and others were not as enthused by this Obama speech as they were by the one he delivered here two years ago. Professor Fahmy says thats because Obama didnt spell out whether he will exert pressure on Egypts current military rulers.

Prof. FAHMY: So, just handing in money without speaking about this larger more complex relationship with the Egyptian military is problematic, and I think this is symptomatic of the speech at large.

NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo

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