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White House calls for restraint in Egypt amid deadly clashes

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 10:50 a.m. CST

(MCT) EDGARTOWN, Mass. — The U.S. “strongly condemns” the violent clashes between Egyptian security forces and protesters and repeats its call for the interim government in Cairo to use restraint, the White House said Wednesday.

But White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered little indication that the deadly violence that shook the Egyptian capital Wednesday had caused any shift in the U.S. policy toward the military leadership that ousted democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in July.

“We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian military and security forces to show restraint and for the government to respect the universal rights of its citizens, just as we’ve urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully,” Earnest said. “We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law and call on the government to respect basic human rights such as freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law.

“The world is watching what is happening in Cairo.”

Earnest said President Barack Obama was monitoring the situation while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. The president was briefed Wednesday morning about the violence by national security adviser Susan Rice and would continue to receive updates throughout the day, Earnest said. The president was scheduled to go golfing Wednesday afternoon, the third day of his summer hiatus.

Egyptian security forces had warned for weeks that they planned to clear pro-Morsi protesters engaged in sit-ins organized by his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement. The raids Wednesday morning erupted into chaotic and deadly violence.

The White House said the raids were a sign that the interim government was “not currently following through on their promise to transition back to a democratically elected civilian government,” Earnest said.

Still, the U.S. has refused to call the military overthrow of the Morsi government a coup, a label that could have implications for the continued flow of U.S. aid to Egypt. Earnest repeated Wednesday that the White House was not willing to take that step.

“We have determined that it is not in the best interest of the United States to make that determination,” Earnest said. “But as we’ve also said throughout that process, we are, on a regular basis, reviewing the aid that is provided by the United States to Egypt. And we’ll continue to do that.”

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©2013 Tribune Co.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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