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US to evacuate embassy personnel in Egypt

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-04 05:59

WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of nonessential staff and family members from the American missions in Egypt following the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

"The Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest," the agency said in an updated traveling warning posted on its website.

It also warned American citizens against traveling to Egypt at this time and advised those living in the country to leave, as the Arab nation was embroiled in intense confrontations pitting Morsi's supporters against the military and the protesters.

The department cautioned that demonstrations by Morsi's supporters and opponents in the past few days have turned violent sometimes, involving the use of Molotov cocktails, tear gas and firearms, and resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries, including the killing of an American citizen in Egypt's northern city of Alexandria on June 28.

In the latest development, the army sacked Morsi on Wednesday and put the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court in charge of the country for a transitional period and suspended the constitution backed by Morsi's supporters, a move dismissed by Morsi as "a complete military coup."

The move came following Morsi's refusal to heed the army's 48-hour deadline for him to either step down or call for early elections, as demanded by the protesters unhappy with his policies for the past year since he took office as Egypt's first elected president.

Morsi proclaimed that he remains the country's legitimate president. "There is no alternative for legitimacy, the constitution or the law," he repeated in a prerecorded statement broadcast by pan-Arab Al Jazeera news channel on Wednesday evening.

"I am ready to sit with everyone for dialogue and negotiation," he added.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Morsi had not done enough to steer his country out of the current crisis.

As a strong supporter of Egypt, Washington has tried to make the most populous Arab nation a paragon to showcase transition to democracy.

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