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U.S. Cautious on Egypt, Calls for Quick Return to Democracy

U.S. national security team calls for a quick return of a democratically elected civilian government in Egypt.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/5/2013, 5:44 AM

Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square in Cairo
Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square in Cairo
Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama held a meeting with members of his national security team on Thursday to discuss the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a White House spokeswoman said, according to Politico.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry were among those joining the meeting in the White House Situation Room, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, adding that some officials took part by secure video conference.

"Members of the president's national security team have been in touch with Egyptian officials and our regional partners to convey the importance of a quick and responsible return of full authority to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible; a transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups; avoiding any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters; and the responsibility of all groups and parties to avoid violence," Meehan said, according to Politico.

The meeting came one day after Egypt's army ousted and detained Morsi, after a week of deadly clashes and mass protests calling for him to go.

After Morsi was forced out, Obama issued a statement saying he was "deeply concerned" by the role of the Egyptian military in the Egyptian president's ouster, which followed massive street protests. However, Obama's statement did not call Morsi's ouster a coup, which could trigger a halt on U.S. aid.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on Thursday told Kerry that the overthrow of Morsi had not been a military coup.

"I hope that they read the situation in the right way, that this is not a military coup in any way. This was actually the overwhelming will of the people," Amr said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the spokesman of Egypt's military said the army would not carry out any exceptional or arbitrary measures against any political group.

Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his official Facebook page that the armed forces and security agencies want to "ensure national reconciliation, constructive justice and tolerance."

He noted that said only peaceful protests will be tolerated, urging Egyptians to avoid attacks on Brotherhood offices to prevent an "endless cycle of revenge."

Earlier, Obama said he was "deeply concerned" over Morsi's ouster and urged the army to refrain from "arbitrary arrests".

After Morsi’s ouster, the military arrested several Muslim Brotherhood officials, including its chief Mohammed Badie.

The Egyptian Islamic Coalition, headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, has called on supporters to take to the streets after Friday prayers and hold huge rallies.

Citizens were asked told to “demonstrate peacefully and say 'no' to the army's arrests and 'no' to the military coup.