Obama 'Strongly Condemns' Crackdown In Egypt

NPR | Aug. 15, 2013 2:05 p.m.

Contributed By:

Mark Memmott

“The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government” that have led to civilians “being killed in the streets,” President Obama said Thursday from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where he is vacationing with his family.

He called on Egypt’s interim government to lift the state of emergency it has declared and said the U.S. has canceled joint military exercises with Egypt that had been scheduled for September.

“Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual while civilians are being killed in the streets,” Obama said.

But he did not say that the U.S. would cancel any of the several billion dollars worth of aid — mostly military in nature — it sends to Egypt each year. Obama did, though, say that the U.S. will consider “further steps.”

His comments, the president’s first since a bloody crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday left hundreds of people dead and thousands more wounded, echoed a statement the White House previously issued saying that the U.S. “strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in Egypt.”

“American cannot determine the future of Egypt,” Obama added, saying that “we do not take sides with any particular party of political leader.” He noted, however, that Morsi, while democratically elected, led a government that was “not inclusive and did not respect the views of many Egyptians.”

But the military that ousted Morsi and the interim government established has taken a “dangerous path,” Obama said, with its harsh response to the protests by Morsi’s supporters.

Egypt, said the president, must adhere to principles that stress “nonviolence … and respect for human rights” as it transitions into a democratic state.

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