March 17, 2011

CARDIN SAYS U.S. SHOULD BE PREPARED TO CUT OFF AID TO NEW MIDDLE EAST GOVERNMENTS THAT DO NOT RESPECT INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, spoke today at an SFRC hearing entitled the "Popular Uprisings in the Middle East: The Implications for U.S. Policy." Ambassador Bill Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State, testified before the Committee.

"As recent events in the Middle East demonstrate, the U.S. is often conflicted between support for our strategic priorities and a partner who fully shares our values. Such is not the case for one and only one country in the region - Israel. And since we play a major role in the Middle East through partnerships and foreign assistance, we have a right to expect accountability of that aid - not only that these countries respect the human rights of its citizens, but also that they work to end extremist forces in their own countries," Senator Cardin said.

"The U.S. must clearly articulate that if the new governments of these countries pursue policies that are counter to their commitments, to our priorities, or to the Peace Process and relations with Israel, we are prepared to cut off aid. We are watching closely that these countries uphold human rights, gender equality and are ready to fight extremist elements like Hamas or Hezbollah, if they want to continue to receive U.S. assistance."

###