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Graham, McCain Trying to Make Egypt Trip

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are hoping to travel to Egypt next week to help assess the situation on the ground and send a “unified message” from the United States that persistent violence without elections would appear more like a “coup,” Graham told reporters Tuesday.

The distinction of “coup” is important for Congress, as it cannot continue to provide aid to Egypt if the uprising there is determined to be an official coup d’état. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by opposition military forces earlier this month, and more than 200 Egyptians have died since.

Graham said President Barack Obama asked McCain and him to travel to the region. Both McCain and Graham are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations.

“We just got to get everything put together, see if we can go next week,” Graham said. “But the president reached out to us. Obviously I’d be glad to go. I’ve got a lot of interest in Egypt and the Arab Spring. But I’d want to deliver a unified message that killing the opposition is becoming more and more like a coup and the longer you put off elections … put the Egyptian military on notice.”

Graham said, however, that plans were not finalized and that “hopefully it’s safe enough to go.”

The South Carolina Republican also had concerns over colleague Rand Paul’s proposal to cut off aid to Egypt. Paul has been fighting to get a vote on his measure before Congress breaks for August recess.

“My main concern is, for us to vote now on Egypt … is ill-timed and ill-conceived,” Graham said. “I’d like to go over there and talk to them … find out what’s going on on the ground. If you cut off aid, that’s a destabilizer.”

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