U.S. Defense officials are delaying the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt following this month's military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Wednesday the decision to indefinitely delay the delivery of the four warplanes came from President Barack Obama, whose administration is now in the process of reviewing Washington's longstanding military support to Egypt.
“Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” he said.
The Obama administration has said it is deeply concerned about the Egyptian military's decision to remove President Morsi and is calling for a speedy return to a democratically elected civilian government.
Key Dates in Egypt
February 11, 2011 - President Hosni Mubarak resigns after weeks of massive protests and clashes
January 21, 2012 - The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party wins almost half of Egypt's parliamentary seats
June 24, 2012 - Mohamed Morsi becomes Egypt's first freely elected president
November 22, 2012 - Morsi grants himself sweeping powers, sparking protests
July 3, 2013 - The army removes Morsi from power and suspends the constitution
Shortly after the ouster, President Obama ordered U.S. government agencies to review assistance programs for Egypt.
Egypt receives $1.3 billion in U.S. aid each year.
U.S. officials say the suspension of F-16 deliveries does not mean the U.S. is stopping all aid to Egypt, which Washington considers a key ally in the Middle East. In his statement Wednesday, Little said the U.S. remains committed to its defense relationship with the Egyptians, but he made Washington's desires clear.
"Moving forward, everything that we do and say will continue to be focused on hastening Egypt's return to a democratically elected government as soon as possible," he said.
Until now, the administration had refrained from announcing any measures in direct response to the ouster of Morsi.
U.S. law mandates that aid be suspended to governments following military coups. In this case, U.S. officials say they are still working to determine whether the removal of Morsi qualifies as a coup d'etat.
The four F-16's were part of a sale of 20 aircraft to Egypt. Eight were delivered earlier this year.