U.S. May Cancel Joint Exercise with Egypt

Official says U.S. is considering cancelling a joint military exercise with Egypt because of the violence in the country.

Elad Benari ,

Egypt demonstrations
Egypt demonstrations

The United States hinted on Wednesday it was considering cancelling a joint military exercise with Egypt, as Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the violence in the country as “deplorable”.

A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Reuters news agency that the possibility of scrapping the biennial "Bright Star" exercise was discussed at a meeting of the so-called "deputies committee," which gathers the number two officials from key U.S. national security agencies.

In 2011, the terrorism in the restive Sinai Peninsula forced the sides to cancel the drill.

Kerry, meanwhile, appeared to fully recant his previously expressed support for Egypt's military-backed government, on which he had recently backtracked.

"Today's events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy," Kerry told reporters, according to the AFP news agency.

"The interim government and the military -- which together possess the preponderance of power in this confrontation -- have a unique responsibility to prevent further violence and to offer constructive options for an inclusive peaceful process across the political spectrum,” he stated.

"This includes amending the constitution and holding parliamentary and presidential elections, which the interim government itself has called for," said Kerry.

The Secretary of State said a political solution was the only option, but acknowledged, "It has been made much, much harder and much, much more complicated by the events of today."

So far, the White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”

Defining the overthrow of Egypt’s government as a coup would mean the United States could continue providing $1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid to Egypt.

Hundreds were killed on Wednesday as Egyptian police began a crackdown on supporters of the deposed president.

The killing took place when police swooped down on protesters camping out in support of the Islamist leader at Rabaa al-Adawiya, where Morsi supporters have been staging sit-ins for weeks, demanding he be reinstated.

The Egyptian interim government declared a state of emergency, as the death toll continued to mount in clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters.