Obama: US doing ‘everything it can’ to protect diplomats amid Egyptian protests

President Obama said on Saturday that the administration is working to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel in Egypt amid unrest and protests in the North African nation.

“Our most immediate concerns with respect to protests this weekend have to do with our embassies and consulates, and so we have been in direct contact with the Egyptian government and we have done a whole range of planning to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our embassies and consulates protected and our diplomats and personnel there safe,” Obama said during his visit to South Africa.

A major opposition protest against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is planned for Sunday, the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Obama urged both sides to refrain from violence.

Friday saw mass rallies in Cairo, and violent clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi in Alexandria, according to the Associated Press and other outlets.

Obama, at a joint press conference with South African President Jacob Zuma, said the U.S. supports the right to speech and peaceful free assembly in Egypt.

“I think every party has to denounce violence. We would like to see the opposition and President Morsi engage in a more constructive conversation about how they move their country forward because nobody is benefiting from the current stalemate that exists there,” he said.

Obama also urged Egyptian police and military to show restraint.

NBC News reported Saturday that officials at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt confirmed that one American citizen, Andrew Pochter, had been killed during the anti-government protests in Alexandria.