US strongly condemns violence in Egypt

The United States “strongly condemns today’s violence and bloodshed across Egypt,” US Secretary of State John Kerry announced in a press briefing Wednesday evening.

As the nationwide death tolls rises to at least 235, Kerry remarked that “today’s events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion, and genuine democracy.”

Kerry also called for an immediate end to the state of emergency in Egypt, imposed earlier in the day for at least one month, while calling on the Egyptian government to “respect basic human rights including freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law.”

According to Reuters, the US is considering calling off the Bright Star joint military exercise with Egypt following today’s violence, in which two sit-ins supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi were violently dispersed by police.

The biennial military exercise began after the Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel and is seen as a cornerstone of US-Egyptian military relations. It was canceled in 2011 due to the 25 January uprising.

In his statement, Kerry strongly requested that the Egyptian military and interim government reconcile the democratic process by including amendments to the constitution, and holding parliamentary and presidential elections, which the interim government itself has called for.

He also urged all parties, including civil society and the opposition, to share the responsibility of avoiding violence, while also participating in a productive path towards a political solution. 

“There will not be a solution through further polarization,” he added.

Kerry concluded by stating that the US remains “ready to work with all of the parties and with our partners and with others around the world in order to help achieve a peaceful, democratic way forward.”

The US statement came after other international statements. Earlier in the day, Catherine Ashton of the EU condemned the violence but stopped short of blaming any party, while Turkey and Qatar denounced the security forces’ actions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the escalating violence “bitter and regrettable,” while the UK’s William Hague said “I condemn the use of force in clearing protests and call on the security forces to act with restraint.”