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Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it has approved plans for a $197 million missile sale to Egypt.

Why it matters: The decision comes despite concerns about Egypt's human rights record. It coincides with news of the arrest in Egypt of family members of Mohamed Soltan, a vocal U.S.-based Egyptian American human rights activist.

Details: The State Department said in a statement it notified Congress about the plans, which it said would "support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East."

  • "The proposed sale will support the Egyptian Navy’s Fast Missile Craft ships and provide significantly enhanced area defense capabilities over Egypt’s coastal areas and approaches to the Suez Canal," the statement added.
  • "Egypt will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces since Egypt already operates previously procured RAM Block 1A missiles."

What they're saying: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing Tuesday the Biden administration had and was continuing to "engage the Egyptian government on human rights concerns and we take seriously all allegations of arbitrary arrest or detention.

  • "We will bring our values with us into every relationship that we have across the globe," he added.
  • "That includes with our close security partners. That includes with Egypt."

For the record: Soltan spent some two years as a political prisoner in Egypt after being arrested protesting the 2013 coup by then-military leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is now president.

  • He has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was tortured while in custody in the country.
  • Soltan's nonprofit, the Freedom Initiative, said in a statement the targeting of his family members marks the latest attempt by the government of Sisi "to silence its critics living abroad."

Go deeper

5 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

5 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 5 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."

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