WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama is ordering a review of U.S. aid to Egypt, where the military Wednesday ousted democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi. Obama is calling for a return to democracy as soon as possible.
In a written statement, President Obama said he is “deeply concerned” about the Egyptian military’s decision to remove President Morsi and suspend the nation’s constitution. He stopped short of calling the move a "coup d’etat."
Obama called on the Egyptian military to return full authority to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible, and to avoid arbitrary arrests of Morsi and his supporters.
The president said the United States is committed to the democratic process and does not support any single party. He called on all sides to avoid violence and work together to restore democracy.
In the meantime, President Obama has directed his administration to review the implications of the Egyptian military’s actions for U.S. aid to Cairo.
U.S. law requires the White House to suspend its aid to any country whose elected leader is ousted in a military coup. Obama has requested more than $1.5 billion in military and economic assistance to Egypt for the fiscal year that starts in October, and the U.S. and Egyptian military historically have close ties.
The president spent much of Wednesday meeting with his national security team at the White House or by phone or video conference. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and CIA Director John Brennan were among those talking with Mr. Obama.
In a phone call to Morsi on Monday, President Obama said democracy is about more than just elections, but also about “ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government.”
On Capitol Hill, U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor called Egypt’s stability “tremendously important” for America’s security and that of its Mideast allies.
In a written statement, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called Morsi “an obstacle to the constitutional democracy that most Egyptians wanted.” Cantor said he hopes Morsi’s departure “will reopen the path to a better future for Egypt.”