German minister says aid depends on respect for democracy

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German financial aid to Egypt depends on progress on democracy in the country, Germany's foreign minister warned on Wednesday, hours before a scheduled visit by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Guido Westerwelle said on ARD public television that Berlin's offer of help "depends on advances in the democratic development in Egypt".

Morsi's office said on Tuesday that his trip to Germany was still on despite deadly clashes in the country but that the scheduled two-day trip had been cut back to just a few hours.

He is scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel after being greeted with military honours and the two are due to hold a joint press conference, a German government spokesman said.

"These last days we have seen some terrible pictures, images of violence and destruction," Westwerwelle said, calling for dialogue between the Egyptian government and opposition.

He said there was a need for what he called "strategic patience" with Egypt, adding: "That we say what criticism we have but that we don't end but rather strengthen talks."

"Dialogue is the best possibility for influence."

Morsi is later scheduled to take part in a conference where German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler and the president of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry are due to hold speeches.

"Egypt's economic success will only be lasting if society is free," Roesler told the regional Koelner Stadt Anzeiger newspaper, insisting on the importance of human rights and religious freedom.

© 2013 AFP

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