Arizona Sen. John McCain said Egypt's military ruler assured him that everything possible was being done to resolve the crackdown on pro-democracy non-profit groups that resulted in the detainment of several U.S. aid workers.
The Republican lawmaker is part of a delegation of senators who traveled to Egypt to lobby for the release of the Americans who, along with 27 others, have been referred to trial for fomenting unrest.
"The way we approach this issue of NGOs is with some guarded optimism that we will resolve this issue fairly soon," McCain said. The senator chairs one the non-profit groups.
He added that threats by the United States to cut off $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt were counterproductive.
"We don't think it helps progress, on this very difficult situation for American citizens, to make threats [to cut aid]. We are not making threats. There is plenty of time to make threats," McCain said.
The Arizona lawmaker also addressed the situation in nearby Syria, where the government is engaging in a brutal crackdown against an uprising against the government.
He said there are ways for the U.S. to help the rebel groups without supplying weapons.
"I am not saying that the United States needs to directly supply arms to the Syrian National Army (sic)," he said. "I am saying that there are ways to get assistance, ranging from medical assistance to technical assistance such as GPS and other things that we could provide."
An estimated 5,400 people have been killed in the uprising against Syria's president, most of them civilians.