Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, during his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil Fahmy at the Pentagon, April 30, 2014 (Photo: US Department of Defense)
The US on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to its shared interests with Cairo while at the same time urging political inclusivity in Egypt's progress towards democracy.
Washington's remarks were made during separate meetings convened by Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Advisor Susan Rice with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.
Hagel and Fahmy discussed recent developments in Egypt and the Middle East as well as defence cooperation between both countries, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The US said it remained committed to furthering common security interests in the region, including counter-terrorism and border security, namely in the restive Sinai Peninsula, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.
Hagel urged Cairo to strike a "proper balance between security and freedom," stressing the role of political inclusivity in the democratic process, Kirby said.
The defence secretary urged his Egyptian counterpart to "encourage peaceful dissent by releasing activists and journalists who have been detained."
Several liberal Egyptian activists have been jailed recently for protesting against the interim authorities. The arrests also include journalists, notably a team of Al-Jazeera reporters, who the government has accused of aiding the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Hagel also expressed the US's worries over recent mass trails that saw hundreds of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi sentenced to death.
The Egyptian government's tightening grip on freedoms has raised widespread anxiety, with rights groups and the international community calling for a degree of tolerance towards opposition figures.
US President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, further reiterated Washington's "deep, growing concerns" over the government's clampdown on dissent, while underscoring US support for Egypt's transition to democracy and its "commitment to maintain cooperation on shared security interests," the White House said in a statement