- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2013

A day after an American student from Maryland was killed during protests in Cairo, President Obama said Saturday his most urgent priority is protecting U.S. diplomatic posts in Egypt.

“Our most immediate concern with respect to protests this weekend have to do with our embassies and consulates,” Mr. Obama told reporters in South Africa, where he is in the midst of a weeklong tour. “We have been in direct contact with the Egyptian government.”

With the lethal attack last September on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, still being probed by Congress, Mr. Obama said his administration has “done a whole range of planning to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our embassies and consulate protected, and our diplomats and personnel [in Egypt] safe.”

A U.S. citizen killed on Friday in Alexandria, Egypt, site of anti-government protests, was identified as Andrew Pochter, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Saturday. Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, said the 21-year-old student was from Chevy Chase, Md.

The protests in Egypt are part of the buildup to nationwide “June 30” demonstrations marking a year since the election of President Mohammed Morsi. His opponents hope to force early presidential elections, protesting a variety of social and economic issues.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. supports “peaceful protests.”

“I think every party has to denounce violence,” the president said. “We’d like to see the opposition and President Morsi engaged in a more constructive conversation around how they move their country forward, because nobody is benefiting from the current stalemate that exists there.”

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