The White House refused Monday to call the military takedown of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi a coup — a determination that leaves in place $1.5 billion in U.S. aid to Cairo.
Under federal law, U.S aid to a foreign nation would have to be withheld in the event of a military coup.
"We are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place," said White House spokesman Jay Carney, when asked if President Barack Obama has determined whether the Egyptian military's removal of Morsi from office last week was a coup. "This is an incredibly complex and difficult situation."
At a White House press conference, the first since Egypt's military removed Morsi, Carney said any change in aid to Egypt is "not in the best interest of the United States."
"I've been very blunt about the fact that we're going to examine this and monitor this and take the time in making a determination," Carney said.
Carney continued to call on all sides in Egypt to refrain from violence, even after the Egyptian military was reported to have killed 51 pro-Morsi protesters in a hail of gunfire outside a government building where they believed the toppled president was being held.
Several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have called for a review of the aid provided to Egypt, most of which goes to the nation's military.
"I do not want to suspend our critical assistance to Egypt, but I believe that is the right thing to do at this time," McCain said in a statement Monday.
Carney, however, pointed out that "tens of millions" of protesters in Egypt demanded that Morsi step down after accusing him of leading the nation away from democracy.
Carney said it's important not to rush to judgment in Egypt, but to help the nation make a smooth political transition.
"It is not in our interests to move unnecessarily quickly in making a determination like that, because we need to be mindful of our objective here, which is to assist the Egyptian people in their transition to democracy," he said.
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