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Egyptian ambassador to U.S. says no military coup

A portrait of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is seen at the Raba El-Adwyia mosque square in Cairo July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abd
A portrait of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is seen at the Raba El-Adwyia mosque square in Cairo July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abd

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Egypt's ambassador to Washington said Sunday there had not been a military coup in his country but the army needed to step in to keep violence on the street from spiraling out of control.

Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik told ABC's "This Week" that Egypt's powerful military moved to oust President Mohamed Mursi last week after his response to massive street protests was to incite violence among his supporters.

Tawfik said he did not believe Egypt was in danger of losing $1.5 billion it receives annually in American aid, which by law should be cut off if a country's military ousts a democratically elected leader.

"Egypt has not undergone a military coup. And it is certainly not run by the military," Tawfik said.

He said there was an interim president in place and the main focus of his discussions with U.S. officials was about the future: restoring peace and a democratic process.

"The message has to get across to the leaders of Muslim Brotherhood: We do not need more violence in Egypt," he said.

Mursi has not acted as president for all Egyptians, said Tawfik who was himself appointed by Mursi in September.

With more than 15 million people in the streets, Mursi could have begun a dialogue with the protesters but instead incited his supporters to violence, Tawfik said. He said the military moved in after more than 20 people had been killed.

"If you start inciting your followers to violence, if you start whipping up religious fervor, if you start talking about jihad, about martyrdom, then many, many people are going to lose their lives," he said. "And that is against the law."

Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement called for further protests on Sunday after dozens of people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded on Friday in clashes between his supporters, opponents and the military.

"My advice to the Muslim Brotherhood is they need to acknowledge the mistakes that they made and they need to join the process," the ambassador said. "There is no room for violence."

(Reporting by Patrick Temple-West; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Storey)

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