February 3, 2013 / 6:47 PM / 7 years ago

Egypt takes delivery of U.S. fighter jets

An Egyptian Air Force F-16 fighter jet flies low over thousands of anti-government protesters gathered at Tahrir square in Cairo January 30, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

CAIRO (Reuters) - The United States has delivered four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, Egypt’s military and a U.S. military delegation said on Sunday, highlighting military links between the two countries despite Egypt’s political upheaval.

A statement from the American embassy in Cairo said a U.S. delegation and Egypt held a joint ceremony on Sunday to mark the arrival of the jets, the latest of 224 F-16s delivered to Egypt.

U.S. aid, which has brought criticism in the U.S. Congress, has given the United States leverage over Egypt for decades and given its warships preferential access to the Suez Canal.

The U.S. delegation also discussed preparations for October’s Bright Star joint training exercises, the largest of their kind in the region, an Egyptian military source said.

Bright Star, held every two years, was scrapped in 2011 following the political upheaval that saw the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak and the instalment of the military council as interim leaders until Mohamed Mursi was elected president in June of last year.

Protests marking the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled the autocratic Mubarak have killed around 60 people since January 25, prompting the head of the army to warn last week that the state was on the verge of collapse.

Part of a group of 20 F-16s, the four jets arrived in January, with the rest due later in 2013, Egyptian media reported.

Writing by Marwa Awad; Editing by Jason Webb

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