Grappling with unwelcome results of a revolution that he encouraged, President Obama told Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in a phone call Tuesday that he has a responsibility to “protect the democratic principles” that Egyptians fought for.
“President Obama encouraged President Morsi, and all political groups within Egypt, to work to build consensus and advance the political transition,” the White House said in a statement.
Mr. Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a source of tension for the Obama administration since he was elected president in June 2012 in the aftermath of the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime friend of the U.S.
He has engaged in power grabs such as declaring himself above the reach of the judiciary, and he’s been the target of more popular uprisings by citizens who complain he hasn’t kept his promise to institute democratic reforms. There has also been increased concern about the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Mr. Morsi did help to facilitate a cease-fire in November between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Obama is planning a trip to Israel.
The White House said Mr. Obama reaffirmed “the United States’ strong commitment to the Egyptian people as they continue their transition to democracy.”
“The president welcomed President Morsi’s commitment to serving as a president for all Egyptians, including women and people of all faiths, and emphasized President Morsi’s responsibility to protect the democratic principles that the Egyptian people fought so hard to secure,” the statement said.
They also discussed regional security, and Mr. Obama “welcomed Egypt’s continued role in advancing regional peace and maintaining the ceasefire in Gaza.”
Secretary of State John F. Kerry will travel Saturday to Egypt, where he will meet with government and opposition leaders and members of civil society.