(CAIRO) -- A top U.S. official met with leaders of Egypt's interim government in Cairo Monday to assert the Obama administration's position that the transition to a new government must be handled in an inclusive and non-violent fashion.
Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns' visit comes less two weeks after Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's democratically-elected Muslim president, was removed by the military after widespread demonstrations called for his ouster.
Counter-protests immediately followed and turned violent as Egypt's powerful military began arresting members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party and other sympathizers.
Burns told reporters upon his arrival in Cairo, “If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible?"
He then held discussions with Egypt's interim president, Judge Adly Mahmoud Mansour, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Sisi, the head of the military who implemented Morsi's removal from power.
Burns also spoke with human rights activists, business leaders and bishops from the Christian Coptic Church, which has been the target of sectarian attacks by Egypt's overwhelming Muslim majority.
According to Burns, "Egyptians understand that the first priority must be to end violence and incitement, prevent retribution and begin a serious and substantive dialogue among all sides and all political parties."
Despite the call for calm, the U.S. faces an uphill battle in restoring its standing with Egyptians, having managed to upset both supporters and opponents of the latest revolution by sending mixed signals about who it wants to ultimately lead the country.
Further complicating matters is a $1.3 billion annual aid package, which hangs in the balance because of a U.S. law that cuts off financial assistance to governments taken over by military coups. So far, the White House has been careful not to refer to the recent events as such.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio