(MENAFN - Arab News) EU leaders offered Egypt more than a billion euros in aid and better trade terms as President Muhammad Mursi flew in for his first visit to Europe pledging to support democratic values and freedoms.
The lightning trip, followed by a visit to Rome, came amid violent anti-US protests over an anti-Islam film that led to the killing of four US officials in Benghazi, Libya.
"Attacks such as these cannot be justified, regardless of their motivation," said European Union President Herman Van Rompuy. "All leaders have to assume their responsibilities in building security and tolerance," he added with Mursi at his side following a furious anti-US protest at Washington's embassy in Cairo.
Welcoming the first ever visit by an Egyptian leader to Brussels, and Mursi's first foray into Europe, Van Rompuy pledged the EU would stand by Egypt "as a friend, a neighbor, a partner."
Earlier, praising Mursi for an "unwavering commitment" to democratic values, European Commission chief Jose Barroso vowed to help "build a democratic, free, open, prosperous Egypt."
The EU was making available 449 million euros to Egypt for 2011-2013 but was "willing to do much more," Barroso said.
He offered 500 million euros (640 million) extra in financial assistance - on condition Egypt clinches a 4.8-billion IMF loan - and budget support of 150-200 million euros for the country's economic recovery.