U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for a swift return to elected civilian rule in Egypt, saying the United States was "deeply concerned" by the military's toppling of Mohammed Morsi.
Obama also sent a signal to military leaders, ordering a review of the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual U.S. aid to Egypt in light of the army's move against Morsi, the nation's first democratically elected president.
"I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible," Obama said, just hours after Morsi's ouster.
In Obama's strongest statement to date on the mounting crisis in Egypt, he also urged the powerful army to refrain from any arbitrary arrests and to protect the rights of all Egyptians.
But his statement fell short of condemning the military action, in what a U.S. official told Agence France Presse was a bid to strike a balanced tone and "avoid a spiral into violence."
Washington finds itself walking a tightrope, caught between the need to defend a democratically elected president while recognizing that Morsi failed during his year-long rule to meet the aspirations of many Egyptians who fought to oust long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
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