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U.S. voices concerns about bloodshed in Egypt


08:48, July 29, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday expressed "deep concern" about the bloodshed and violence in the Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria, urging all sides to help their country "take a step back from the brink."

The top American envoy spoke by phone to Egyptian Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton over the deadly clashes in Egypt in the past 24 hours that has claimed over 100 lives and injured more than 1,000 others.

"This is a pivotal moment for Egypt," Kerry said in a statement. "In this extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression."

"The United States urges an independent and impartial inquiry into the events of the last day, and calls on all of Egypt's leaders across the political spectrum to act immediately to help their country take a step back from the brink," he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which has been pushing for the reinstatement of Mohamed Morsi after he was relieved of his presidency by the military on July 3, and other Islamist affiliates held the security forces responsible for the deaths.

Starting on Friday, millions of Egyptians in Cairo and other regions rallied in support of Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to show the popular approval of the security crackdown on extremism and terrorism.

In response, throngs of Morsi's supporters staged their own rallies in the country, demanding his return and labelling his overthrow "a military coup against legitimacy."

"Violence not only further sets back the process of reconciliation and democratization in Egypt, but it will negatively impact regional stability," Kerry said.

"At this critical juncture, it is essential that the security forces and the interim government respect the right of peaceful protest, including the ongoing sit-in demonstrations," he added.

Washington has decided not to label the overthrow of Morsi as a coup, enabling the continuing flow of some 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in annual aid to Egypt, but it has suspended the delivery of four F-16 fighters in a show of its unhappiness with the military's handling of the crisis.

The Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belongs, has been excluded from the political process in Egypt, and Morsi remains incommunicado.

"An inclusive political process is needed that achieves as soon as possible a freely and fairly elected government committed to pluralism and tolerance," Kerry said.

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