Posted at 01:16 PM ET, 02/29/2012

Egyptian officials say travel ban on U.S. NGO employees is lifted

Egyptian officials say a travel ban has been lifted for seven Americans employed by pro-democracy U.S. groups, the Associated Press reports. A senior State Department official, however, said the U.S. had not received official confirmation that the travel ban had been lifted.

Among the seven American is Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who worked for the International Republican Institute in Egypt.

A total of 16 Americans and 27 others are on trial for allegedly using illegally obtained funds to incite unrest in Egypt against the nation’s military rulers. Only the seven Americans who were banned from leaving the country remain in Egypt. When the trial opened Sunday, none of the Americans were present. The trial has now been adjourned until April 26.

The decision came after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she was confident the dispute with the Egyptian government would soon be resolved, Reuters reports. “We believe we will resolve this issue concerning our NGOs in the very near future. That is my best assessment sitting here today,” Clinton told U.S. lawmakers.

The dispute began after Egyptian security forces raided and shut down the offices of 17 human rights and pro-democracy groups in late December:

U.S. officials were furious over the incident and the subsequent travel ban, making clear that the $1.3 billion Egypt receives in annual military aid was at risk.

The lifting of the ban signals an easing of what had been the worst crisis in U.S.-Egypt relations in 30 years.

By  |  01:16 PM ET, 02/29/2012

Tags:  World, Egypt, travel ban, NGOs

 
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