Obama cancels US joint military exercises with Egypt

Last Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 22:05

Washington: Warning that Egypt had entered a "more dangerous path", President Barack Obama on Thursday cancelled US military exercises with the Arab country to protest the killing of hundreds of protesters in the bloodiest crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Obama, however, did not speak anything on the USD 1.3 billion annual military aid to Egypt.

In his first public statement on the crisis, he said the US will cancel its joint military exercise planned for next month because of the rising violence in Egypt.

The Bright Star military exercise has been a centerpiece of the countries` military relations for decades.

"While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual," he said interrupting his weeklong vacation in Massachusetts resort island of Martha`s Vineyard to address the crisis in Egypt.

His remarks came a after over 525 people were killed in the deadliest crackdown by security forces on supporters of 62-year-old Morsi, who was ousted by the Egyptian army on July 3 after a series of countrywide protests against his regime.

"While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians. We know that many Egyptians, millions of Egyptians, perhaps even a majority of Egyptians, were calling for a change in course," he said, adding he understands the "complexity" of Egyptian politics.

He said after the military ousted Morsi, there appeared to be a chance for talks and some sort of reconciliation, but the latest violence moves in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, a defiant Muslim Brotherhood, which was earlier led by Morsi, has vowed to bring down the military- backed government and called for a massive anti-regime rally.

Secretary of State John Kerry has already condemned the clashes between Egypt`s military and supporters of Morsi.

Kerry slammed the Egyptian government for the violence and bloodshed, terming it is a serious blow to the reconciliation and hopes for a transition towards democracy.

"The United States strongly condemns today`s violence and bloodshed across Egypt. It`s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people`s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion," Kerry said yesterday.

"Today`s events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion, and genuine democracy," Kerry said, adding that Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back.

Amidst unfolding developments in Egypt, Kerry spoke to his counterparts in Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and UAE.

"They need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life. We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law and we call on the government to respect basic human rights including freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law. And we believe that the state of emergency should end as soon as possible," he said.

Asserting that violence is simply not a solution in Egypt or anywhere else, Kerry said violence will not create a roadmap for Egypt`s future.

"Violence only impedes the transition to an inclusive civilian government, a government chosen in free and fair elections that governs democratically, consistent with the goals of the Egyptian revolution," he said.

Kerry said the interim government and military of Egypt have a unique responsibility to prevent further violence and to offer constructive options for an inclusive, peaceful process across the entire political spectrum.

"This includes amending the constitution, holding parliamentary and presidential elections, which the interim government itself has called for," he said.

Kerry said the promise of the 2011 revolution has simply never been fully realised, and the final outcome of that revolution is not yet decided.

"It will be shaped in the hours ahead, in the days ahead. It will be shaped by the decisions which all of Egypt`s political leaders make now and in these days ahead," he said.

"The world is closely watching Egypt and is deeply concerned about the events that we have witnessed today. The United States remains at the ready to work with all of the parties and with our partners and with others around the world in order to help achieve a peaceful, democratic way forward," he said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 21:25

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