WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, called the chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces on Monday morning, a U.S. defense official told Reuters, without providing details on the conversation.
The call by Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Egypt’s Sedki Sobhi came the same day that Egypt’s armed forces handed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi a virtual ultimatum to share power.
Egypt’s military gave feuding politicians 48 hours to compromise or have the army impose its own road map for the country.
The United States has close ties with Egypt’s armed forces, providing $1.3 billion a year to the country in military aid. The Pentagon declined to speculate on the Egyptian statement earlier on Monday and what it meant for the country’s future.
“We’re not entirely sure what’s going to happen one way or the other in the next 48 hours, so I wouldn’t engage in any kind of speculation,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
Ruled for three decades by authoritarian former President Hosni Mubarak, a close U.S. ally, Egypt has long been seen as a bulwark of stability in the Middle East, notably because it was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney