The White House refused Monday to call the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi a “coup.”
“We are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, when asked directly whether President Obama views the regime change as a coup. “This is an incredibly complex and difficult situation.”
The White House called on all sides to refrain from violence in Egypt, where dozens have been killed since Mr. Morsi’s ouster last week. An interim president was sworn in Thursday.
Mr. Carney said the administration is urging all sides, including Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood backed party, to refrain from more violence as Egyptians “seek to salvage their nascent democracy.”
He said “tens of millions” of Egyptians had legitimate grievances with Mr. Morsi’s “undemocratic” form of governing.
“We need to be mindful of our objective here, which is to assist the Egyptian people in their transition to democracy and” protect U.S. national security interests, Mr. Carney said.
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Several congressmen, including Sens. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and John McCain, Arizona Republican, have called for at least a review of the $1.5 billion in aid that the U.S. provides to Egypt annually. U.S. law requires that most forms of aid be cut off from military regimes that overthrow elected leaders.
But Mr. Carney said it “would not be in the best interests of the United States to immediately change” its aid to Egypt, although he said the administration is reviewing its options.