AFP – US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged Egypt’s military rulers to take an “inclusive” approach to governing after security forces killed hundreds of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
Hagel reiterated Washington’s appeal for dialogue amid ongoing bloodshed in Egypt but acknowledged that US influence over events is “limited.”
“The interim government of Egypt must get back to an inclusive approach to reconciliation in Egypt,” Hagel said during a joint news conference at the Pentagon with his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan.
Hagel has had more than 15 phone conversations with Egypt’s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, since the officer led a coup against president Mohamed Morsi.
But he and other top US officials have failed to persuade the military leadership to avoid firing on Morsi’s supporters in the streets, with more than 800 killed in the brutal crackdown.
Due to the violence in Egypt, Obama last week announced the United States had cancelled a joint military exercise with Egypt scheduled for next month.
But he has chosen to maintain the flow of US military aid, which comes to $1.3 billion a year.
Asked why the United States did not cut off all aid as some lawmakers have urged, Hagel said Washington had vital interests in the region, including efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace.