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Obama 'Strongly Condemns' Crackdown In Egypt

President Obama, speaking Thursday from the island of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., said the U.S. has canceled joint military exercises with Egypt.
Jacquelyn Martin
President Obama, speaking Thursday from the island of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., said the U.S. has canceled joint military exercises with Egypt.
President Obama's comments about the crisis in Egypt; Aug. 15, 2013

"The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government" that have led to civilians "being killed in the streets," President Obama said Thursday from Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where he is vacationing with his family.

He called on Egypt's interim government to lift the state of emergency it has declared and said the U.S. has canceled joint military exercises with Egypt that had been scheduled for September.

"Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual while civilians are being killed in the streets," Obama said.

But he did not say the U.S. would cancel any of the several billion dollars' worth of aid — mostly military in nature — it sends to Egypt each year. Obama did, though, say the U.S. will consider "further steps."

His comments, the president's first since a bloody crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday left hundreds of people dead and thousands more wounded, echoed a statement the White House previously issued saying that the U.S. "strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in Egypt."

"America cannot determine the future of Egypt," Obama added, saying that "we do not take sides with any particular party or political leader." He noted, however, that Morsi, while democratically elected, led a government that was "not inclusive and did not respect the views of many Egyptians."

But the military that ousted Morsi and the interim government that was established have taken a "dangerous path," Obama said, with the harsh response to the protests by Morsi's supporters.

The president said Egypt must adhere to principles that stress "nonviolence ... and respect for human rights" as it transitions into a democratic state.

Update at 4:50 p.m. ET. U.S. Issues Travel Warning For Egypt.

The State Department on Thursday issued a new travel warning for "U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt and U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest."

Citing the country's state of emergency, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo urged Americans "who choose to remain in Egypt to comply with local regulations and follow local media for updates applicable to your specific location."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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