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U.S. denies taking sides in Egyptian politics amid Morsi protests

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The State Department firmly resisted taking a side in Egypt's ongoing political crisis Tuesday and rejected a new report that Obama administration officials had urged Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to hold shock elections in the Mideast nation.

"We're not taking sides in this," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters in Washington. "It's not up to us, the United States, to make choices here."

Here remarks came as Mr. Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood political movement and Egypt's first democratically elected president, faced pressure Tuesday both from protesters calling for his ouster and from his own military, which is demanding he defuse the massive and ongoing demonstrations.

Late on Monday, President Obama called Mr. Morsi and encouraged him to "take steps to show that he is responsive to [the protesters'] concerns, and underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process," according to a White House readout of the call.

Mrs. Psaki declined Tuesday to elaborate on any specific steps Mr. Obama may have outlined during the call, beyond saying that the administration broadly supported "allowing people to peacefully communicate their concerns, allowing people to protest in that capacity, urging the respect for democracy."

"Those are things that have been called for both publicly and privately," she said.

Mrs. Psaki also said that "reports that we have been urging early elections are inaccurate."

A report by CNN on Tuesday cited anonymous "senior administration officials" as saying the administration had Mr. Morsi to hold early elections as a possible way to defuse the ongoing protests.

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