The trial of 43 pro-democracy workers, including 16 Americans, which began in Cairo on 26 February, has been adjourned for two months.

The defendants are charged with operating without licenses and receiving illicit funding, something that is flatly denied by the US, which has issued Egypt with repeated warnings that failure to drop the issue could result in the loss of more than $1.3 billion in US aid.

The politically-charged trial, which has received international attention, came to halt after its opening session, with state media reporting that the judge abdicated. A new judge will now be assigned to the case.

The news follows indications that both countries are in renewed negotiations to resolve the crisis after a souring of diplomatic relations between Cairo and Washington, leading to speculation that the trial might eventually be abandoned.

The matter began last December when Egyptian security forces seized documents and equipment from the offices of ten pro-democracy and human rights groups.

Egypt