Obama aides press for swift return to civilian rule in Egypt

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 4, 2013 5:18pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on energy at Ubungo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam July 2, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on energy at Ubungo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam July 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's national security aides are pressing Egyptian officials to move quickly to a democratic government after a military takeover ousted President Mohamed Mursi, the White House said on Thursday.

Obama met with top advisers in the White House Situation Room to discuss the crisis in Egypt, a day after the tumultuous ouster of Egypt's first democratically elected president that the United States has carefully avoided calling a coup.

"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 White House statement said.

Obama is pressing for a transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties, wants Egypt's military-run government to avoid arbitrary arrests of Mursi and his backers, and stresses the need for all parties to avoid violence, the statement said.

The Obama administration has denounced the military takeover but stopped short of calling it a coup.

Obama ordered a review to determine whether U.S. military assistance to Egypt should be cut off.

Phone calls were made by Obama's top aides on Wednesday and Thursday, including conversations by Secretary of State John Kerry with Egyptian leaders as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Qatar, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with Egyptian Minister of Defense General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, the statement said.

(This story was corrected to change days in seventh graph to Wednesday and Thursday)

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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