President Barack Obama, who was criticized over the weekend for his hesitant response to the dramatic developments in Egypt, spoke overnight Sunday with members of the National Security Council to review the “very fluid situation in Egypt.”
A statement released by the White House said Obama “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.
“In line with that position, 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. We remain committed to the Egyptian people and their aspirations for democracy, economy opportunity, and dignity. But the future path of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people,” read the statement.
“During this transitional period, we call on all Egyptians to come together in an inclusive process that allows for the participation of all groups and political parties. Throughout that process, the United States will continue to engage the Egyptian people in a spirit of partnership, consistent with our longstanding friendship and shared interests – including our interest in a transition to sustainable democracy.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel held three conversations with the head of Egypt’s armed forces on Friday and Saturday, emphasizing the need for “a peaceful civilian transition in Egypt,” the Pentagon said on Saturday.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the conversations between Hagel and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi lasted more than two hours, showing the intensive contacts Washington is having with the military leader following last week’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.
“In their conversations, Secretary Hagel emphasized the need for a peaceful civilian transition in Egypt,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
“He also noted the importance of security for the Egyptian people, Egypt’s neighbors, and the region.”
The Pentagon did not give details of Sisi’s reaction.
The New York Times criticized Washington’s “largely ambivalent and aloof” response to the crisis in Egypt after reporting that the president, in a polo shirt, shorts and sandals, headed to the golf course Friday morning with a couple of old friends, then flew to Camp David for a long weekend. Secretary of State John Kerry has been criticized for taking time away from the office to chill on his yacht in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
“Aides said both men were updated as increasingly bloody clashes left dozens dead in Egypt, but from outward appearances they gave little sense that the Obama administration viewed the broader crisis in Cairo with great alarm,” The New York Times reported. Read more at Ynet News.