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Visiting U.S. Envoy Urges Egypt's Military To Avoid Political Arrests


Interim Egyptian President Adli Mansour (right) met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo on July 15.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns says the United States has called on Egypt's military to avoid politically motivated arrests.

Burns also said during a visit to Cairo on July 15 that Washington is "deeply committed to Egypt’s democratic success and prosperity" and that "only Egyptians can determine their future."

Burns made the remarks after talks with Egypt’s interim president, Adli Mansour, and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the architect of the military ouster of Islamist President Muhammad Morsi.

Burns is the first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since Morsi's ouster on July 3.

Burns told journalists in Cairo that Washington would "stand behind certain basic principles" for Egypt, including the protection of "human rights and the rule of law."

"The United States remains deeply committed to Egypt's democratic success and prosperity," Burns said. "We want a strong Egypt -- an Egypt which is stable, democratic, inclusive, and tolerant; an Egypt which addresses the needs and respects the rights of all of its citizens. That is the Egypt that Egyptians deserve, that is the Egypt that can lead the rest of the region into a better future."

Burns also said the United States would not favor any particular personalities or parties.

He was scheduled to stay in Cairo on July 16 for more talks with Egyptian officials.

There was no word on whether he would meet with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of the ousted Morsi.

Burns said he did not think the situation in Egypt would deteriorate into Syrian-style conflict.

"I don't think that Egypt is in danger of repeating the tragedy that we see in Syria today," Burns said. "I think the lessons of that horrible experience are clear to everyone across the region."

Washington has refrained from describing Morsi's ouster as a military "coup." Such a distinction would legally force President Barack Obama's administration to cut off some $1.3 billion in aid for Egypt -- most of which goes to the Egyptian military.

Morsi is being held incommunicado by Egypt's military without charge at an undisclosed location. Prosecutors in Cairo are examining allegations of criminal conduct by Morsi -- including spying for a foreign country, inciting deadly violence, and ruining the economy.

Egypt's public prosecutor also has ordered that the assets of 14 Muslim Brotherhood leaders be frozen -- including its head Muhammad Badie; his deputy, Khairat El-Shater; and the deputy head of the Brotherhood's political party, Essam El-Erian.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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