The suspension of US military aid to Egypt could be lifted if its military-backed government makes efforts to restore civilian rule, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday after Cairo had slammed the move, dpa reported.
"This would be on the basis of performance," Kerry said shortly after arriving in Kuala Lumpur for an overnight visit. "By no means is this a withdrawal from our relationship or a severing of our commitment."
Washington on Wednesday said it would withhold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid and cash from Egypt until progress on its democratic transition is clear.
US officials said the military equipment and cash is on hold pending credible progress towards an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.
"This is a wrong decision in terms of content and timing," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Atti said.
"This decision raises serious questions over the US readiness to provide sustainable strategic support for the Egyptian strategic security programmes, especially in view of the terrorist dangers and challenges facing Egypt," he said.
The US is to continue to withhold the delivery of four F-16 jets, M1A1 tanks, Apache helicopters and Harpoon missiles, US officials said.
In addition, 260 million dollars in cash previously given to the Egyptian military to use at its discretion is to be suspended or repurposed.
"Egypt will take its decisions related to its domestic affairs in full independence and without any foreign influences," Abdel-Atti said.
A review of US aid to Egypt was ordered by President Barack Obama during the summer after the army ousted democratically elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
The military said its overthrow of Morsi in July was in response to a popular wish after millions of Egyptians took to the streets demanding he step down.
The Egyptian government has portrayed a crackdown on pro-Morsi Islamists as part of the war against terrorism.
Hundreds of people have been killed in Egypt since Morsi's toppling in clashes involving his supporters, opponents and security forces.