Egypt foreign minister to Kerry: No 'military coup'

Egypt foreign minister to Kerry: No 'military coup'

CAIRO - Reuters
Egypt foreign minister to Kerry: No military coup

In this March 2 file photo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr listens as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo. AP photo

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said he assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call today that the overthrow of elected President Mohamed Morsi had not been a military coup.

"The American side is a strategic partner for Egypt and the welfare of Egypt is important to them," said Amr, a career diplomat who tendered his resignation to Morsi on July 2 but who remains in charge of Egypt's foreign ministry - at least until a new interim technocratic government is named.

"I hope that they read the situation in the right way, that this is not a military coup in any way. This was actually the overwhelming will of the people." 

Kerry had assured him, Amr said, that Egypt was a strategic ally whose stability was important. Kerry also asked about human rights and the Egyptian minister said there would be no acts of vengeance against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

Amr, interviewed in his office at the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, said he had briefed many ambassadors in Cairo and spoken by telephone today with more than a dozen foreign ministers and the United Nations secretary general.

He said he told them: "Definitely what happened was not a military coup. I know that last night and today some people are saying this. Of course, I can understand. But what happened, definitely, definitely, was not a military coup."

'No political role for the army'

Amr said the move had been driven by the massive popular demonstrations on June 30 against Morsi which had persuaded the armed forces to intervene and suspend the constitution. Noting a roadmap set out for holding new elections, he said:

"There is no role, no political role whatsoever, for the military ... This is the total opposite of a military coup." 

Speaking on a day when Morsi was in custody and he and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood faced arrest warrants, Kerry had asked about human rights, Amr said: "He was worried about the status of human rights, understandably. 

"I assured him there is no retribution, no acts of vengeance, that nobody will be treated outside the law.

"The idea is to have everybody participating in the transitional process." 

US presses Egypt to avoid arbitrary arrests

Meanwhile, the United States  pressed Egyptian officials to avoid the "arbitrary arrests" of Morsi and his supporters, an administration official said.

Members of U.S. President Barack Obama's national security team have also stressed the importance of a "quick and responsible return" to elected civilian government in Cairo, in contacts with Egyptian officials and Washington's regional partners, the US official said, on condition of anonymity.
The military overthrow of an elected leader could entail cutting of vital U.S. aid to Egypt, under the U.S. law. Hours after the installation of a new regime in Egypt, Obama warned that the U.S. might have to review its aid to Egypt. 

Obama urged Egypt's military to hand back control to a democratic, civilian government without delay, but stopped short of calling the ouster of Morsi a coup d'état.