Hoeven Asks Secretary of State Clinton for Help with Egyptian Detainees

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today emphasized to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the need to do everything possible to get the travel ban lifted on the American non-governmental organization (NGO) workers still in Egypt. He did so at a hearing of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, at which Clinton was testifying. 

Secretary Clinton told Hoeven that the U.S State Department is doing all it can to seek a resolution for the American NGO workers under the travel ban in Egypt.  Hoeven, who met last week with American NGO workers and Egyptian leaders in Cairo, again offered his support and encouraged the Secretary to continue working with officials to bring home the seven Americans, including North Dakota native Staci Haag. 

            “Certainly we want to do everything we can to see that the American NGO workers get home safe and sound. Beyond that, we also want to build a good relationship with this new democratic government in Egypt. There’s a lot at stake here,” said Hoeven. 

Clinton said the U.S. State Department and Egyptian leaders are moving toward a resolution and assured Hoeven that she would update him as the situation in Egypt progressed. 

Senator Calls for State to Impose Strong Sanctions to Prevent Iranian Nuclear Capabilities 

Hoeven also urged the Secretary to quickly implement sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities. Hoeven helped sponsor sanctions in the Defense Authorization bill passed in December that would bar any country or company that does business with the Iranian Central Bank from doing business with the United States banking system. Iran receives payments for its oil sales through the Iranian Central Bank so this sanction would prevent companies and countries from being able to pay for Iranian oil, unless they were willing to not do business with the United States banking system. The sanctions would therefore make it very difficult for Iran to sell its oil to countries throughout the world, and without oil sales, Iran would have no revenue. The impact on their economy would force Iran to discontinue their nuclear ambitions. 

“We are working to help you in the Senate, in terms of imposing those sanctions,” said Hoeven. “That’s our best shot to really apply pressure to the Iranian government to stand down on its nuclear ambitions. We’ll continue to try to help make those sanctions as effective as possible.” 

“We are working as aggressively as we can to try to meet these very tough sanction targets,” said Secretary Clinton. 

Hoeven was in the Middle East last week on a security mission with a bipartisan delegation of senators including Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The delegation met with Egyptian military and government leaders with regard to the status of the NGO workers, as well as broader relations between the two countries. Those meetings included Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council in charge of the government of Egypt, as well as members of parliament, including the speaker and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest party in the new Egyptian parliament. The group also met with leaders in Afghanistan, Israel, Libya and Tunisia.