Kerry: Egypt violence ‘deplorable,’ Egyptians must ‘step back’

The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned the bloodshed in Egypt after the breakup of opposition protests by Egyptian security forces and urged all sides to seek a political solution.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House told the interim government to end a state of emergency, a throwback to the nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule under Hosni Mubarak, as soon as possible.

“Today's events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department.

“Egyptians inside and outside the government need to take a step back, they need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life,” he added.

Kerry said the United States had urged the interim government “at every occasion” against using force to resolve the political stalemate with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian authorities said 235 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in clashes between security forces that broke out after the security forced broke up protests camp of thousands of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Mursi.

“Violence is simply not a solution in Egypt or anywhere else,” Kerry told reporters. “Violence will not create a roadmap for Egypt's future.”

The United States and its European and Arab allies, in particular the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have sought to help craft a political solution to the Egyptian crisis. But their envoys returned home last week after several days in Cairo without an agreement.

“The interim government and the military, which together possess the preponderance of power in this confrontation, have a unique responsibility to prevent further violence and to offer constructive options for an inclusive, peaceful process across the entire political spectrum,” Kerry added.

The violence is the worst Egypt has suffered since war with Israel in 1973, forcing tough decisions for Egypt's Western allies, especially Washington, which funds the Egyptian military with $1.3 billion a year.

The Obama administration has refused to label the army's July 3 overthrow of Mursi a “coup” because it would mean having to cut off that aid under U.S. laws.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States' aid policy on Egypt was still under review.

“We will continue to not only monitor and be engaged, but will review the implications for our broader relationship, which includes aid,” she told a daily briefing for reporters.