CAIRO Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said he assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call on Thursday that the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi had not been a military coup.
The definition of what happened in Egypt on Wednesday is important because a military overthrow of an elected leader would generally trigger economic sanctions and could entail cutting of vital U.S. aid to Egypt.
"The American side is a strategic partner for Egypt and the welfare of the Egypt is important to them," said Amr, a career diplomat who tendered his resignation to Mursi on Tuesday 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 Mursi 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 with more than a dozen foreign ministers and the United Nations secretary general on Thursday.
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."
He said the move had been driven by the massive popular demonstrations on Sunday against Mursi 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 Mursi 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."
(Writing by Alastair Macdonald, Editing by Sarah McFarlane)