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Obama asks aides to study possible response to Egyptian authorities

August 15, 2013, 19:42 UTC+3

U.S. cancels biannual military drills with Egypt

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WASHINGTON, August 15 (Itar-Tass) - U.S. President Barack Obama has instructed his aides to explore possible responses to the events in Egypt over the last several days.

“I’ve asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.- Egyptian relationship,” the president said in a statement on Thursday, August 15.

Obama condemned escalation of violence in Egypt and urged its authorities to respect fundamental rights of their citizens.

“The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest. We oppose the pursuit of martial law, which denies those rights to citizens under the principle that security trumps individual freedom or that might makes right,” he said.

Obama believes that Egyptian people “deserve better than what we’ve seen over the last several days.”

He stressed that “the cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop” and called on the Egyptian authorities “to respect the universal rights of the people. We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches.”

“We believe that the state of emergency should be lifted, that a process of national reconciliation should begin, that all parties need to have a voice in Egypt's future, that the rights of women and religious minorities should be respected and that commitments must be kept to pursue transparent reforms to the constitution and democratic elections of a parliament and a president,” the president said.

The U.S. does not believe that force is the way to resolve political differences, he said. “After the military’s intervention several weeks ago, there remained a chance for reconciliation and an opportunity to pursue a democratic path. Instead, we’ve seen a more dangerous path taken, through arbitrary arrests, a broad crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s associations and supporters and now, tragically, violence that's taken the lives of hundreds of people and wounded thousands more,” Obama said.

In his opinion “violence, on the other hand, will only feed the cycle of polarisation that isolates Egyptians from one another and from the world and that continues to hamper the opportunity for Egypt to get back on the path of economic growth.”

Obama said the United States government had decided to cancel a biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month, due to the escalation of violence in Egypt.

“This morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are cancelling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month,” he said.

The U.S. president said, however, that “in the spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect,” America wants to partner in Egyptian people’s pursuit of a better future. “And we are guided by our national interest in this long-standing relationship. But our partnership must also advance the principles that we believe in and that so many Egyptians have sacrificed for these last several years, no matter what party or faction they belong to,” he said.

Obama reaffirmed that “America will work with all those in Egypt and around the world who support a future of stability that rests on a foundation of justice and peace and dignity.”

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