Egypt must get back to `inclusive approach`: US

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 09:25

Washington: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged Egypt`s military rulers to take an "inclusive" approach to governing but said Washington`s influence was limited after security forces launched a brutal crackdown.

Hagel reiterated Washington`s appeal for dialogue amid ongoing bloodshed in Egypt but acknowledged that the United States could not dictate events there.

"The interim government of Egypt must get back to an inclusive approach to reconciliation in Egypt," Hagel said during a joint news conference at the Pentagon with his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan.

Hagel has had more than 15 phone conversations with Egypt`s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, since the officer led a coup against president Mohamed Morsi.

But he and other top US officials have failed to persuade the military leadership to prevent their forces from firing on Morsi`s supporters in the streets, with more than 800 killed in the brutal crackdown.

Due to the violence in Egypt, Obama last week announced the United States had cancelled a joint military exercise with Egypt scheduled for next month.

But he has chosen to maintain the flow of US military aid, which comes to USD 1.3 billion a year.

Asked why the United States did not cut off all aid as some lawmakers have urged or suspend the delivery of Apache helicopters, Hagel said Washington had "serious interests" in the region, including efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"As President Obama has said, we`re reviewing every aspect of our relationship with Egypt."

But he said Egypt was a sovereign country and that Washington had only a modest ability to shape the political situation.

"Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited," Hagel said. "It`s up to the Egyptian people. And they are a large, great, sovereign nation."

The Pentagon chief also said the US government was working closely with Egyptian security forces to ensure the safety of its diplomats and other Americans in Egypt.
"Yes, we are concerned about our people, Americans, all Americans in Egypt.

Protection of Americans in Egypt, not just only our diplomats but all Americans, is of the highest priority," he said.

The attacks on protesters have prompted international condemnation, with Western states threatening to cut off aid. Morsi backers have vowed new demonstrations and Sisi, the army chief, promised a "forceful" response to any violence from protestors.

AFP



First Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 09:25

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