ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — The United States on Monday urged Egypt's military and government to work together, a day after President Mohamed Morsi forced out the country's longtime defense minister.
"It is important for the Egyptian military and civilian leadership to work closely together to address the economic and security challenges facing Egypt," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"We hope that President Morsi's announcement will serve the interests of the Egyptian people."
The US reaction came a day after Morsi forced Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to retire and scrapped a recent constitutional document that gave the military legislative and other powers.
Tantawi was replaced by Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, whom Carney said was known to the United States from his previous position and whose appointment it welcomed.
"We had expected President Morsi to coordinate with the military to name a new defense team and we will continue to work with Egypt's civilian and military leaders to advance our many shared interests," he said.
The surprise move was seen as a test of strength between the new civilian government, which is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the military, which held unrivaled influence under former president Hosni Mubarak.
It came in the wake of a deadly attack on the Egyptian military in the Sinai that prompted an unprecedented military campaign in the lawless peninsula.
Carney reiterated that the United States was prepared to help Morsi and the military as they work to prevent future attacks.
"We commend General Tantawi for his service, especially during the extremely difficult transition from President Mubarak's leadership through the elections," he said.
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