WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is "very concerned" about the situation in Egypt, the State Department said on Wednesday of the sweeping protests surrounding a stand-off between Egypt's armed forces and Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
The situation remained fluid and the United States could not confirm whether a coup by Egypt's military was underway, department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.
"We do ... remain very concerned about what we're seeing on the ground," Psaki told reporters, adding that a peaceful political resolution would be the best option.
The U.S. comments came as Mursi's national security adviser said a military coup was under way after an army deadline passed for the president to agree to a power-sharing deal, even as hundreds soldiers with armored vehicles staged a parade near the presidential palace.
Psaki said the United States was not taking sides, but made clear that U.S. officials were disappointed in Mursi's speech on Tuesday night. In that speech Mursi said he would defend the legitimacy of his elected office with his life.
Mursi must "do more to be truly responsive" to concerns of Egyptian people" after huge rallies at the weekend, she said. "We are calling on him to take more steps."
Specifically, Psaki said Mursi should call for an end to violence, including violence against women. He should also take steps to engage with the opposition and the military and work through the crisis in a political fashion, she added.
Asked about the U.S. opinion of the Egyptian military's actions, Psaki said: "We believe all sides need to take steps to talk with each other, to engage with each other to lower the level of violence and call for an end to the violence."
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Laura MacInnis; Editing by Vicki Allen)