Germany sends envoy to Cairo over think-tank raid

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Berlin said Tuesday it was sending a high-level diplomat to Cairo over a raid against a German think-tank as part of a broad Egyptian probe against foreign non-governmental organisations.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will dispatch his point-man handling the German response to the Arab Spring for talks with "the relevant Egyptian authorities," including Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, on Wednesday, his ministry said.

The diplomat, Volkmar Wenzel, will "demand quick clarification of the accusations" against the think-tank, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), which along with other NGOs stands accused of breaking Egyptian political funding laws.

The ministry said in a statement it was clear to Westerwelle "how important the work of political foundations is to the transformation process in Egypt and other North African countries."

He said the KAS, which has close ties to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, had worked in Cairo for several years promoting the development of civil society.

"This work is explicitly supported and promoted by the German government," the ministry said.

It added the German embassy in Cairo had been offering consular support to the KAS since last week's raid and that a diplomat was accompanying its director to a hearing with prosecutors Tuesday.

Egyptian authorities last week raided 17 NGOs, three of them US-funded, as part of what prosecutors said was an investigation into alleged violations of laws banning foreign financing of political activities.

The move prompted strong Western criticism and hints from Washington and Berlin that they could review their aid to Egypt.

Germany also summoned the Egyptian ambassador to Berlin over the "unacceptable" raid.

© 2012 AFP

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