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US Cautions Egypt Against Arbitrary Arrest of Morsi

President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team to discuss the situation in Egypt, in the Situation Room of the White House, July 3, 2013.

The White House has cautioned Egyptian officials to avoid any arbitrary arrests of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and his supporters.

President Barack Obama met with members of his national security team Thursday, some of whom had been in phone contact with top officials in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

According to the White House, the U.S. officials stressed to the Egyptian officials the responsibility of all groups and parties in Egypt to avoid violence, and called for the return to an elected civilian government as soon as possible.

Nobel prize-winning Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei told The New York Times Thursday that the military takeover was the "least painful option" for Egypt.

He said there is no presidential recall process in the country but that millions of people had demanded the recall of Morsi "with their feet in Tahrir Square." ElBaradei said he thought Egypt could not have have waited "even one more week."

Also Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for talks in Egypt that would include the "all parts" of the country's political spectrum. NATO and European leaders have also urged restraint, while the African Union said it will consider whether to suspend Egypt's membership.

Russia's foreign ministry said all "political forces" in Egypt should be guided by higher national interests.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates congratulated the Egyptian people. Beleaguered Syrian President Basher al-Assad also welcomed Egypt's change in leadership, saying Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had told "lies" to the Egyptian people.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Mr. Morsi's ouster by the military was "unacceptable" and "extremely alarming." Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party called Morsi's removal a "military coup against electoral legitimacy."