Hagel: US Ability to Influence Egypt 'Limited'
At a press conference Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Washington was doing its best to stabilize the situation in Egypt, but admitted that there was only so much the U.S. could do.
“Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited,” Hagel said. “It's up to the Egyptian people. And they are a large, great, sovereign nation.”
Hagel reiterated the call last week by President Barack Obama for dialogue and a cessation of violence.
"The interim government of Egypt must get back to an inclusive approach to reconciliation in Egypt," Hagel said during a joint news conference at the Pentagon with his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan. Over the past week, he said, he had spoken with General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian army, at least 15 times.
The U.S. reiterated Monday that it was “reviewing” its aid policies to Egypt. Last Thursday, Obama said the U.S. was canceling joint military maneuvers with Egypt, but would not suspend economic and military aid to the country.
"As President Obama has said, we're reviewing every aspect of our relationship with Egypt.," said Hagel, but emphasized that as a sovereign country, the U.S. could not force Egypt to do anything it did not want to do.
Hagel said that the U.S. was also working with Egypt to ensure the safety of Americans in the country.
“We are concerned about our people, Americans, all Americans in Egypt. Protection of Americans in Egypt, not just only our diplomats but all Americans, is of the highest priority," he said.