Obama calls on feuding parties in Egypt to avoid violence

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Egypt’s opposition parties and President Mohammad Mursi to renounce violence and engage in a constructive dialogue, reported Reuters.

“Obviously we are all looking at the situation with concern,” Obama told a news conference in South Africa, commenting on clashes in Egypt which killed two people.

He also stated that instability in Egypt could spill over into the surrounding region.

His announcement came as the U.S. on Saturday issued a travel warning to Americans heading to Egypt, amid intensified clashes that are predicted to escalate in the buildup to June 30.


The date marks the Egyptian president’s first anniversary in power.

Americans were warned against all but essential travel to Egypt amid news that an American man had been killed in Friday clashes between government supporters and opponents in the city of Alexandria.

The State Department identified the American as Andrew Pochter, who was killed while photographing battles between Mursi's supporters and foes.

In June 2011, Pochter wrote on the revolutionary events in Tunisia and Egypt for Al Arabiya English in a blog article.

Kenyon College in Gambier in Ohio said in a statement on its website that Pochter was a 21-year-old student from Maryland, working in Egypt as an intern for a non-profit education organization, AP news agency reported.

“Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012 and the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt’s 25th January Revolution, is likely to continue in the near future due to unrest focused on the first anniversary of the president’s assumption of office,” the State Department said.

“Demonstrations have, on occasion, degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries and extensive property damage.”

“Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There are numerous reports of the use of firearms as well,” it said.

The U.S. administration also said it would reduce its presence in the country, allowing some nonessential staff and the families of personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to leave Egypt until conditions improve.

The department added that it had authorized the departure of “a limited number of nonemergency personnel” in addition to family members.

Clashes have broken out ahead of planned mass protests against the government headed by Islamist President Mohammed Mursi.

According to The Associated Press, at least six Egyptians have been killed in days of clashes ahead of nationwide protests Sunday demanding Mursi’s removal.

Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo on Friday in two opposing mass rallies, one calling for the Mursi’s ouster, and another showing support for the embattled Islamist president.

Opponents of Mursi poured into the iconic Tahrir Square, waving flags and chanting “leave.”

Hundreds had camped the previous night in the epicenter of the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Protests against Mursi took place in other parts of Cairo, including the districts of Shubra, Sayeda Zeinab and Mohandesseen.

In Alexandria and Daqahliya offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) were torched, according to security forces.

(With AP and Reuters)

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