President Obama on Tuesday called Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, urging him to be “responsive” to anti-government protesters, amid growing political unrest and threats from Egypt’s military to assume power.
“The president told President Morsy that the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group,” said the White House in a statement about the call.
The White House said Obama urged Morsi “to take steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns and underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process.”
“President Obama reiterated that only Egyptians can make the decisions that will determine their future,” the statement said.
Obama’s call came after days of mass demonstrations in Egypt by anti-Morsi forces, who are calling for the Muslim Brotherhood leader to step down.
The protests have been marred by violence between pro- and anti-government supporters, including the death of an American, and on Monday Egypt’s military vowed to intervene if Morsi did not resolve his conflict with opposition groups.
The Obama administration has been careful to not choose sides in the dispute, with the president on Monday declining to call for Morsi to step down.
“Our position has always been, it's not our job to choose who Egypt's leaders are,” Obama said during a press conference in Tanzania, his last stop during a weeklong trip in Africa.
“We're going to continue to work with all parties inside of Egypt to try to channel this through legal, legitimate processes,” he added.
The White House said Monday that Obama was “concerned” about violence in Egypt and was watching the situation closely. But the White House added that Morsi’s election as president was “legitimate” and said that both sides needed to peacefully negotiate a resolution.
The White House said Obama also addressed his concerns about violence against women, after reports of a number of sexual assaults during the Egyptian protests.
“He reiterated his belief that all Egyptians protesting should express themselves peacefully, and urged President Morsi to make clear to his supporters that all forms of violence are unacceptable,” said the statement.
Obama also said that the U.S. is taking all steps to protect its diplomats in the country and called on Cairo to “protect” its embassy and missions.