- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2013

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that the U.S. will continue its military relationship with Egypt, despite the interim government’s crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi that has resulted in more than 500 deaths.

“The Department of Defense will continue to maintain a military relationship with Egypt, but I made it clear that the violence and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk,” Mr. Hagel said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, President Obama announced that the U.S. would cancel a joint annual U.S.-Egypt military exercise planned for this fall as a result of Wednesday’s violence. He stopped short of suspending $1.5 billion in U.S. military and humanitarian aid provided to Egypt every year.

“Canceling this exercise was a prudent step … to signal the U.S.’ strong objection to recent events,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said at a Pentagon briefing. “It’s a clear signal to Egyptian authorities that we are deeply concerned [about the violence].”

Mr. Hagel, who is the main U.S. interlocutor with the Egyptian military, spoke earlier Thursday with Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi.

“In my discussion with Minister Al-Sisi, I reiterated that the United States remains ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward,” Mr. Hagel said.