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Sens. McCain, Graham condemn Egypt violence, call on U.S. to suspend aid

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A pair of senior Republican senators on Friday called on the Obama administration to suspend aid to Egypt, saying the “massacre” of civilians has brought the United States’ relationship with the North African nation to a “fork in the road.”

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said bloodshed between the ruling Egyptian military and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi have made it difficult for the nation to repair its fractured state.

“The interim civilian government and security forces — backed up, unfortunately, by the military — are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them,” they said in a joint statement.

Clashes between the factions in Cairo killed more than 500 people, and dozens more were killed Friday in renewed fighting.

President Obama on Thursday said he is canceling a military exercise between the United States and Egypt, but did not address whether the U.S. government should scale back financial aid to the nation until the military calls for democratic elections.

Mr. Obama has declined to call the ouster of Mr. Morsi a “coup,” since American law would force the United States to cut off aid to Egypt, and thus some of its leverage in the situation.

“Egyptians bear the responsibility for recent events in their country, and for its future,” the senators said. “It is clear that most Egyptians do not want a radical Islamist government or a return to military rule. There are steps that all sides can take to save Egypt from a future of protracted instability and stagnation, but Egyptians must make these choices themselves.”

They also criticized the Obama administration for failing to engage in the Middle East.

“Whether it is Egypt, Syria, Iraq, or the wider region, the failure of the Obama Administration to use our influence to shape events in this critical part of the world has only diminished our credibility, limited our influence, and constrained our policy options,” the lawmakers said.

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