Hagel briefed on political transition in Egypt, Pentagon says

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelInterpreter who helped rescue Biden in 2008 escapes Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE on Saturday was briefed on efforts by the heads of Egypt's interim leadership to transition into a formal government. 

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Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, head of the military-led interim government, updated Hagel on transition efforts during a call with the Pentagon chief on Saturday.

"Minister Al-Sisi updated Secretary Hagel on the security situation throughout Egypt, as well as progress on the political roadmap," according to a Defense Department readout of the call.

The Pentagon did not provide details of al-Sisi's update to Hagel on the country's transition efforts.

During the conversation, Hagel "stressed the importance of an inclusive, transparent political process that includes all Egyptians, and that differences must be resolved without violence," according to the Pentagon.

Hagel is in the midst of a weeklong diplomatic trip to the Pacific, en route to the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei.

Saturday's call to al-Sisi is the latest effort by Hagel to reach out to his Egyptian counterpart in the wake of recent violence that has engulfed the country.

Bloody clashes between al-Sisi's forces and supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi have swept across the country for the past several weeks.

The outbreak of violence began earlier this month, when Egyptian troops flushed out Morsi supporters from their camps in Cairo and elsewhere on Wednesday.

The government crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters has resulted in more than 500 dead in the ensuing melees.

Morsi, the nation's first freely elected president, and his Muslim Brotherhood government were forced out of power on July 3.

In response, Morsi backers launched a series of mass protests, dubbed by Muslim Brotherhood backers as a "day of rage" against the interim Egyptian government, led by al-Sisi and the military.

Hagel and other Pentagon officials have threatened to reduce or cancel outright billions in U.S. military aid to the country if the violence continues.

During their last conversation after the government's initial raids on the pro-Morsi sites, Hagel warned al-Sisi that his forces' actions put the country's ties to the U.S. military "at risk."

Last Friday, the Pentagon stepped up its rhetoric against Egypt's efforts to put down government protesters in the country, vowing adjustments will be made to U.S.-Egyptian military ties if Cairo continues its bloody crackdown.

"There will be adjustments, but I do not know how much you can read into that yet," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters at the Pentagon at the time.