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On July 8, more than 50 people were killed in a military crackdown in Cairo; and on July 27, at least 80 people were killed by police.

Despite the bloodshed, the popularity of Army Chief Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who toppled Mr. Morsi, has soared among Egyptians opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“People don’t want a large death toll, but they are also very sympathetic for what the military would need to do to be able to disperse the [protesters],” said Manal Omar, associate vice president of the Middle East and North Africa program at the United States Institute of Peace.

The military remains popular in Egypt, but “a high body count” could change that, Ms. Omar said at a briefing Wednesday in Washington.

However, she added, “If I were a betting person, I would say, ‘If Sissi were to run [for president] today, he would win by a landslide.’”

Gen. el-Sissi has said he has no political ambitions.

After Mr. Morsi’s ouster, Gen. el-Sissi appointed Mr. Mansour, chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as interim president and laid out his road map for a return to democracy.

The Obama administration has said it is not in U.S. national interests to describe the military’s actions as a coup. Such a determination would force the U.S. to cut off the $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military. The aid has helped keep Egypt’s rulers committed to a 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Diplomacy efforts failed

International diplomatic efforts last week failed to resolve the political crisis created by Mr. Morsi’s ouster. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton were among the foreign officials who tried to encourage talks between the two sides.

Last week, the interim government blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the failure to open negotiations to end the protests.

Mr. Kerry said Mr. Burns and EU officials “provided constructive ideas and left them on the table during our talks in Cairo last week.”

“From my many phone calls with many Egyptians, I believe they know full well what a constructive process would look like,” he added.

Mr. Kerry spoke with Egypt’s interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and Mr. ElBaradei on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Mr. ElBaradei, a former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, had been in favor of a negotiated settlement of the crisis.

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