Kerry says no U.S. rush to judgment on Egypt coup question

AMMAN Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:13pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (not seen) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Amman July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (not seen) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Amman July 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Muhammad Hamed

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday there would be no hasty U.S. decision on whether Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's ouster constituted a coup, a determination that would affect U.S. aid for Cairo.

"On the issue of a coup, this is obviously an extremely complex and very difficult situation," Kerry told a news conference in Amman, where he held talks with Arab officials, adding that Washington would not "rush to judgment".

"What complicates it, obviously, is that you had (an) extraordinary situation in Egypt of life and death, of the potential of civil war and enormous violence, and you now have a constitutional process proceeding forward very rapidly."

Under U.S. law, Washington would have to cut off aid to Egypt if it decided that Mursi's eviction from office on July 3 was a military coup.

The army deposed the Islamist leader against a backdrop of huge street protests against him. Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood has kept up a mass street vigil since to demand his reinstatement.

Current and former U.S. officials have said President Barack Obama's administration has no appetite for terminating aid, which runs to about $1.55 billion a year, some $1.3 billion of which goes to the military.

"The fact is we need to take the time necessary because of the complexity of this situation to evaluate what has taken place, to review all of our requirements under the law, and to make it consistent with our policy objectives," Kerry said.

After Israel, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. aid since it signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979. Straddling the Suez Canal waterway, it is also a major security partner for the United States in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; writing by Jeffrey Heller and Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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