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Hagel: Egypt Is a ‘Very Complicated Problem’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama Administration says it is reviewing its aid to Egypt as violence in the country continues to grow.

"This is a very complicated problem,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday. “We continue to work with all the parties to try to help, as much as we can, facilitate a reconciliation, a stop of the violence.”

Hagel acknowledged that the U.S. is limited in its ability to “influence the outcome” in Egypt. Ultimately, Hagel said, it will be up to the Egyptian people “to sort this out.”

“I don't think the United States is without influence, but that has to be a collaborative effort focused on what the Egyptian people want, supporting the Egyptian people,” Hagel said.

Hagel said he and other members of the Obama administration’s national security team had spoken to Egypt’s new leadership with the same message: that the violence must end and the national emergency should be lifted.  “The interim government of Egypt must get back to an inclusive approach to reconciliation in Egypt. All of us have consistently said that.”

When asked if the safety of the U.S. peacekeeping force in the Sinai was a concern, Hagel said, “Yes, we are concerned about our people, Americans, all Americans in Egypt.”  He added, “Protection of Americans in Egypt, not just only our diplomats but all Americans, is of the highest priority.”

“All the American government officials, including American military, have been working very closely with the Egyptian military and police to assure the security and protection of Americans in Egypt. And we'll continue to do that,” Hagel said.

Meanwhile, the former top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East is being sent to Cairo. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he’s asked Jeffrey Feltman to hold “wide-ranging talks” to see how the U.N. can best support peace and reconciliation efforts in Egypt. The U.N. says it “stands ready to support Egyptian-led approaches to resolving the current crisis.”

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