United States says will not take sides in Egypt crisis

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2013 12:48 PM
United States says will not take sides in Egypt crisis

CAIRO (Reuters) - The United States will not take sides in Egypt's upheaval, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said on Monday, in an attempt to address concerns on both sides of the political divide.

Burns, in Cairo on a visit to meet Egypt's interim leaders, the military and members of the business community, stressed in a briefing at the U.S. embassy that it was up to Egyptians, and not the United States, to steer the country to civilian rule.

The military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3 after millions of people took to the street to demand his resignation. His Muslim Brotherhood movement has denounced the move as a coup and staged a series of large protests since then.

"We don't take the side of particular personalities or particular parties," said Burns, making the first high-level visit to Egypt by a U.S. official since Mursi was toppled. "I did not come with American solutions, nor did I come to lecture anyone. We will not try to impose our model on Egypt."

He also said he did not believe Egypt would go down the Syrian path into all-out civil war, despite violent protests involving Mursi's supporters and opponents that have killed dozens of people.

"I don't think that Egypt is in danger of repeating the tragedy that we see in Syria today," he said.

Burns called on the military to refrain from politically motivated arrests, after a crackdown on the Brotherhood included arrest orders against several leaders. Mursi himself has been in detention at an undisclosed location since he was deposed.

"If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible?" Burns asked. He also urged those opposed to Mursi's ouster to participate in the political process peacefully.

(Reporting By Mike Collett-White; Editing by Michael Roddy)