WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama condemned the violence in Egypt on Saturday and said that the United States was not working with any particular Egyptian political party or group as the country reels from a military takeover.
Obama, spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat, convened a secure conference call with members of his national security team to discuss events in Egypt days after a military ouster of elected President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
“The president condemned the ongoing violence across Egypt and expressed concern over the continued political polarization. He reiterated that the United States is not aligned with, and does not support, any particular Egyptian political party or group,” a White House statement said.
The Obama administration had grown skeptical of Mursi’s ability to lead Egypt. While the United States has expressed concern about the military takeover, it has not condemned it nor called it a coup, prompting speculation that the United States tacitly supports it.
Obama has ordered a review to determine whether annual U.S. assistance of $1.5 billion, most which goes to the Egyptian military, should be cut off as required by law if a country’s military ousts a democratically elected leader.
Violence sweeping Egypt in reaction to Mursi’s ouster has led to the deaths of 35 people.
The White House statement did not comment on way or the other on the fact that liberal Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. nuclear agency chief, had been appointed as interim prime minister to lead Egypt’s transitional government.
“The United States categorically rejects the false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed,” the statement said.
Washington is urging Egypt’s military to move quickly back toward a “sustainable democracy.” The White House statement urged all Egyptian leaders to come together in an inclusive process that allows the participation of all groups and political parties.
“We urge all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence among their supporters, just as we urge all those demonstrating to do so peacefully. As Egyptians look forward, we call on all sides to bridge Egypt’s divisions, reject reprisals, and join together to restore stability and Egypt’s democracy,” it said.
Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Walsh