UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON/CAIRO, (Xinhua): The UN Security Council Thursday called on all parties in Egypt to “exercise maximum restraint” and put an end to violence in the Middle East country hours after U.S. President Barack Obama “strongly condemned” the steps taken by the Egyptian interim government and security forces.
“The view of council members is that it is important to end violence in Egypt, that the parties exercise maximum restraint,” the rotating council president for August Maria Cristina Perceval said.
The closed council meeting was held at a joint request from council members France, Britain and Australia.
As his first response to the violent crackdown on protesters, Obama announced the cancellation of a joint military exercises due to take place in Egypt’s Sinai region next month.
“Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed,” Obama said in an audio message broadcast to the nation from Martha’s Vineyard in the U.S. East Coast state of Massachusetts, where he is on vacation with his family.
The cancellation of the Bright Star joint military exercise with Egypt followed Washington’s halted delivery last month of four F-16 fighters to Cairo to show its displeasure with the military’s handling of the situation, which turned ugly once again after Morsi’s ouster on July 3 sparked deadly confrontations in the country.
Obama said he had asked his advisors to “assess implications” of the Egyptian interim government’s actions and consider “further steps.”
However, seemingly contrarily, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday had a phone conversation with Egypt’s Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, saying military relations with Egypt will continue, even after Obama canceled the joint military exercises.
The United States “remains ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward,” Hagel said.
“But I made it clear that the violence and inadequate steps toward reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk.”
Among other countries, Brazil, Algeria, Turkey, and Canada have either straightforward condemned the violence in Egypt, or taken diplomacy measures to deal with the clashes between security forces and protesters seeking the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.
Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the crackdown represented a “serious degradation of the security situation in a key country for the stability in the region.”
Algeria said “a dialogue among all Egyptians stands more than ever the only way to build consensus that would allow the return of order and security.”
Turkey has decided to recall its ambassador to Egypt for consultations, and Canada shuttered its embassy in Egypt on Thursday, citing concerns about staff safety amid growing unrest.
The National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi alliance comprising some 30 Islamist parties and movements led by the Muslim Brotherhood, called on Egyptians to take to the streets across the country in a massive march dubbed “Friday of Anger” to protest against the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins by the security forces.
As of now, at least 525 deaths and 3,717 injuries have been reported by Egypt’s Health Ministry across the country in clashes between supporters of Morsi and the security troops, after the latter dispersed Wednesday two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza.