WASHINGTON — A top Republican lawmaker called for "punitive action" Thursday against Egyptian officials for the crackdown on US democracy advocates.


Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, singled out Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga.

"The Egyptian government's actions cannot be taken lightly and warrant punitive actions against certain Egyptian officials, and reconsideration of US assistance to Egypt," Ros-Lehtinen told a House hearing.

"While the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces bears ultimate responsibility for this strain in relations, the minister of international cooperation should not be exempt from punitive actions."

It was the latest in a drumbeat of congressional outrage over raids on pro-democracy groups in Egypt, and charges against American activists.

US lawmakers from both parties have stepped up their warnings that Egypt's crackdown will force a review of the $1.3 billion in US military aid to the longtime Middle Eastern ally if the crisis is not quickly resolved.

"I truly believe we are approaching a precipice beyond which our bilateral relations could suffer permanent damage," Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman said Wednesday.