The United States expressed concern on Tuesday about growing political polarisation in its major ally Egypt and a "climate of impunity" over abuses by police and security forces in the most populous Arab nation.
At a news conference after a four-day visit, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labour Michael Posner avoided direct criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of President Mohamed Mursi.
But he said young people's economic and political concerns, which had led to recent violent protests, should be addressed, and the government should "reach out widely" to other political and social forces and hold consultations on concerns about the Islamist-tinged constitution it pushed through in December.
"While recognising the need for the Egyptian government to take specific steps to build confidence and to address valid concerns, we condemn this violence unequivocally," Posner said.
Noting that the authorities had the right and duty to ensure public order and stop violence by protesters, he said: "At the same time there are credible reports that police and security forces have used excessive force. (...)
He reaffirmed Washington's concerns about legislation under discussion regulating non-governmental organisations and the right to demonstrate, saying it was vital but should respect international standards.