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President Obama condemns outbreak of violence in Egypt

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:16:12 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 15 2013 04:24:03 PM CDT

The rising tide of violence in Egypt has pushed the death toll past 600.

The rising tide of violence in Egypt has pushed the death toll past 600. 

President Obama condemned Thursday the crackdown by the country's military-backed interim government on supporters of ousted President Muhammad Morsi.

Wednesday was Egypt's bloodiest day since the 2011 revolution to oust Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. 

Speaking from his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, President Obama urged the interim government to respect the rights of protestors and urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

"The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces," the president said. "We deplore violence against civilians."

The strong words from President Obama came as the situation in Egypt rapidly deteriorated. 

In his first statement on the violence, Mr. Obama said he's canceled bi-annual U.S.-Egyptian military exercises scheduled for next month.

"While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back," the president said.

After weeks of simmering tension, Egypt's military government used force to clear encampments of pro-Morsi supporters Wednesday. The actions triggered violent clashes throughout the country.  At least 638 people died, and more than 3,700 others were injured. 

The Egyptian government has declared a state of emergency and put a curfew in place.

"We've seen a more dangerous path taken through arbitrary arrests, a broad crackdown on Mr. Morsi's associations and supporters, and now, tragically, violence that's taken the lives of hundreds of people and wounded thousands more," stated Mr. Obama.

He said even though the Morsi government was democratically elected, it was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians. 

The interim government has vowed a restoration of democracy, but so far that hasn't happened.

President Obama maintained the United States isn't taking sides.

"We want Egypt to succeed.  We want a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Egypt.  That's our interest," he said.

Mr. Obama has also asked his national security team to assess the actions taken by the interim government to see if any other steps may be necessary. 

The U.S. State Department warned American citizens Thursday to leave Egypt and not travel there.