Egypt's interim government has given a cool response to a U.S. call for a national dialogue in the polarized country. Opponents of the military-backed government insist there can be no dialogue until the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, is returned to power.
Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Morsi have been protesting since his July 3 ouster. Thousands gathered in the capital again Tuesday night, chanting, praying and listening to rousing speeches by their leaders, who insist on the return of Morsi.
"Dialogue is necessary, but it should be based on the return of President Mohamed Morsi," asserted protester Mohamed Ahmed. "He must return, for negotiations to set off, but if he doesn't return, and if the constitution and parliament aren't restored, then there will be no dialogue.
The opposition, including Egypt's former diplomat Amr Moussa, said bringing back Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood that supports him would harm Egypt.
"Can Egypt, can we afford another year of the same worst performance ever that we have seen? Can we afford another year of the same, with the same people, the same incompetent people, the same government incompetent government? That question was basic, and the answer was unanimous, the vast majority say no we shouldn't, for the sake of the country itself," stated Amr Moussa, member of National Salvation Front Opposition.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called for an end to violence in Egypt and asked military leaders to launch a reconciliation process.
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain gave the same message to the interim government in Cairo. McCain called for a swift transition to democracy.
"We also urge the release of political prisoners. We also urge strongly a national dialogue, a national dialogue that is inclusive of parties including the Muslim Brotherhood and at the same time, we expect the Muslim Brotherhood to refrain from violence," said McCain.
Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, receiving about $1.5 billion annually. But U.S. law requires that aid to any country under a military coup must be cut off. Senator Graham hinted that it could happen to Egypt.
"It is my hope and desire that we can get this problem resolved, and to those who want to sever this relationship in America and to cut off our assistance, [so that] Senator McCain can go back and say 'That's ill advised and unnecessary,'" said Graham.
Egypt's interim government denies that Morsi's overthrow constituted a coup, saying that Egyptian people wanted his removal. Military authorities say they have put forward a road map for a political transition and new elections.