Egypt Interim PM doesn't fear civil war

Washington, Aug 21 (IANS) Egypt's Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has said that he does not fear a civil war in his country and also warned the US that any cut in military aid would be a bad sign.

"Really, in truth, I do not fear civil war," Beblawi told ABC News, in his first interview since assuming the post last month after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi as president.

"But I do not exclude that we will have some continuous problems in the coming weeks. Perhaps coming months. But civil war and the type we have seen in some neighbours, I don't think that Egypt is on this path," he said.

Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition since the fall of president Hosni Mubarak two years ago. In July this year, Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president, was deposed by the armed forces after only one year in office.

The constitution was suspended and an interim government was then installed.

Beblawi also said that if the US decided to cut military aid to his country it "will be a bad sign and will badly affect the military for some time".

"We are sorry that at this moment there is a kind of misunderstanding (between the US and Egypt)," Beblawi said in the interview recorded in Cairo Tuesday.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding and I'm sure that the time will work to the benefit of both sides."

US President Barack Obama has strongly condemned the steps taken by the Egyptian interim government to quell the supporters of Morsi who have come out on the streets in that country demanding his reinstatement.

Obama also announced the cancellation of joint military exercises, saying the US's traditional cooperation with Egypt "cannot continue as usual".

However, the US administration has refused to suspend $1.3 billion in annual military aid, despite divisions in the Congress on whether to cut off aid to its important Middle East ally.

Beblawi also recalled that his country at one time went with the Russian military for support.

However, he added: "I cannot exclude the fact that we need the US as much as the US needs us."

In continuing violence in the north African Arab nation, 300 people were reportedly killed this weekend while over 1,000 were allegedly killed when security forces moved in to clear thousands of Morsi-supporters in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City.

While the Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that over a thousand people died in the Nasr City incident, Beblawi said the figure was "only several hundred. Perhaps close to a thousand".

"The fact of the matter is they were not peaceful," he said in the interview.

"Before the assault was taken they announced in loud speakers asking people to come peacefully out and there are some exit for them, no one would be held responsible, so they tried everything," he said.

"We announced that telling them this cannot continue, that this is bad, we are open for dialogue but they insisted and they had weapons and it was discovered they used weapons."

As for the interim government's role, he said that it was committed to a true democratic government in the country.

"We are very keen to end this transitional period. I definitely think that we're talking about between six and nine months we will have elections," he told the US news channel.

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