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US Condemns Violence; Kerry Says Egypt at Pivotal Moment

Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (file photo)
The United States has strongly condemned the violence taking place in Egypt. The White House says violence will make the country's political transition more difficult, while Secretary of State John Kerry says Egypt is at a "pivotal moment."

Secretary Kerry had strong words for the events in Egypt Wednesday, saying violence and further political polarization will not bring an answer to Egypt's problems.

"Today's events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy. Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back. They need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life," said Kerry.

Kerry and earlier the White House said the U.S. opposes the imposition of a state of emergency in Egypt, saying it should be ended as quickly as possible.

The U.S. has called on Egypt's interim government to respect basic human rights, including freedom of peaceful assembly and due process.

Saying "violence is not a solution in Egypt or anywhere else," Kerry urged Egyptian leaders to take up "constructive ideas" he said were "left on the table" by U.S. and partner nations in recent talks.

"So this is a pivotal moment for all Egyptians. The path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering. The only sustainable path for either side is one towards a political solution," he said.

President Barack Obama now faces renewed questions about his handling of the situation in Egypt, and his response to the ouster in July of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The administration has so far avoided making a legal determination that a coup took place, which would force a cutoff of $1.5 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt.

Earlier, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest spoke to reporters in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Obama is vacationing with his family.

"The review of our assistance that is provided to Egypt is something that we do on a regular basis, and that is something that we are continuing to do, " said Earnest.

However, pressed on the aid issue, Earnest said he could concede that the violence in Egypt has accelerated a U.S. review. He provided no details of conversations taking place "at a variety of levels" with Egypt's leaders and military.

President Obama is receiving regular briefings on Egypt from National Security Adviser Susan Rice and his national security team, while he remains on vacation in Martha's Vineyard.