WASHINGTON - The White House said on Monday it is not in the best interests of the United States to immediately change its aid program to Egypt, where President Mohamed Morsi was removed from office by the military last week.
The US government is not yet prepared to label the Egyptian military's overthrow of the government as a coup, a decision that would determine whether US aid to the country would continue, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
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"There are significant consequences that go along with this determination and it is a highly charged issue for millions of Egyptians who have differing views about what happened," Carney told reporters at a briefing.
"We are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place and to monitor efforts by Egyptian authorities to forge an inclusive and democratic way forward," he said.
Carney condemned the "explicit" calls to violence by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The State Department called on the Egyptian army to exercise "maximum restraint" in dealing with protesters after dozens of people were killed when the military opened fire on supporters of Morsi on Monday.
"We strongly condemn any violence as well as any incitement of violence," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a briefing. "We call on the military to use maximum restraint responding to protesters, just as we urge all of those demonstrating to do so peacefully."
US President Obama (Photo: Reuters)
At least 51 people were killed on Monday when the Egyptian army opened fire on supporters of Morsi, in the deadliest incident since the elected Islamist leader was toppled by the military five days ago.
Protesters said shooting started as they performed morning prayers outside the Cairo barracks where Morsi is believed to be held.
But military spokesman Ahmed Ali said that at 4 am (0200 GMT) armed men attacked troops in the area around the Republican Guard compound in the northeast of the city.
"The armed forces always deal with issues very wisely, but there is certainly also a limit to patience," the uniformed Ali told a news conference, at which he presented what he said was video evidence, some of it apparently taken from a helicopter.
Emergency services said 435 people were wounded.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood urged people to rise up against the army, which they accuse of a coup to topple the president. The movement's leaders are calling for peaceful resistance, but the risk remains of fringe elements pursuing a violent agenda.
At a hospital near the Rabaa Adawiya mosque where Islamists have camped out since Morsi was ousted, rooms were crammed with people wounded in the violence, sheets were stained with blood and medics rushed to attend to those hurt.
"They shot us with teargas, birdshot, rubber bullets - everything. Then they used live bullets," said Abdelaziz Abdel Shakua, a bearded 30-year-old who was wounded in his right leg.
Bloody scenes from Cairo, three days after clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters across the country claimed 35 lives, have alarmed Egypt's allies, including Israel, with which it has had a US-backed peace treaty since 1979.
Reuters, AP contributed to the report
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