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Obama condemns Egypt violence, cancels joint military exercises

President Barack Obama spoke out on Thursday against the violence in Egypt, condemning a military crackdown there that left more than 500 people dead.

President Barack Obama makes a statement about the violence in Egypt while at his vacation home on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard in Chilmark August 15, 2013. Credit: Reuters President Barack Obama makes a statement about the violence in Egypt while at his vacation home on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard in Chilmark August 15, 2013.
Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama spoke out on Thursday against the violence in Egypt, condemning a military crackdown there and saying the United States had canceled joint military exercises scheduled for next month.

"The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces," Obama said from his vacation home on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.

"We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest."

Egyptian state media reported Thursday that more than 500 people have been killed in the crackdown.

Obama's Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel later warned Egypt's army chief that "the violence and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk".

Western diplomats have told Reuters that senior U.S. and European officials had been in contact with Egypt's rulers until the final hour, pleading with them not to order a military crackdown on the protest camps, where thousands of deposed President Mohamed Mursi's followers had been camped out since before he was toppled.

 
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